York alumnus Paul Sarossy wins another Genie for cinematography

York alumnus Paul Sarossy (BFA ‘86) won a 2005 Genie Award for cinematography Monday for his work on Head in the Clouds, a Second World War drama starring Charlize Theron which won four awards overall, including editing, original score and costume design.

Of the seven former York students nominated by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television for their work as producer, director, writer or cinematographer, only Sarossy came home a winner in a night dominated by Quebec films and filmmakers. The Quebec sweep of the awards is nothing new, says York film historian Seth Feldman of the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Department of Film & Video.

Right: Genie Award-winning cinematographer Paul Sarossy

“The balance between English and French Canada’s presence at the Genies varies from year to year,” Feldman said, “so it’s not all that surprising when Quebec has a particularly good year like this one.”

Feldman said the films made in Quebec generally have a much higher standing in their own community, than English Canadian films have in theirs, and relatively few of those films become accessible to English speaking audiences.

“Most go on the festival circuit, are screened briefly in art house cinemas and then disappear,” he said. “Television, the main outlet for Canadian cinema, can’t attract large audiences with subtitled prints. Nor do dubbed films work very well. For a largely monolingual English Canadian audience, film hasn’t done much to bridge the two solitudes.”

Sarossy, who was born in Barrie, Ont., in 1963, studied in York’s Department of Film & Video from 1982-1986 and went on to success in numerous films, both as cinematographer and director. He has now won five Genie Awards in his career including this year’s. Sarossy won his first Genie in 1994 (Exotica) and has won each time he was nominated since then: including 1997 (The Sweet Hereafter), 2000 (Felicia’s Journey) and 2003 (Perfect Pie).

Sarossy explained how his career got started, after studying at York, in an interview with UK writer Neil Young in 2003: “When I left film school it was 1986 and that was an amazing time for young directors and cinematographers in Toronto,” Sarossy said. “It was the beginning of the whole music-video scene, with lots of low-budget commercials being made and people were hired straight out of film school. It was a tremendous break for me to go from nothing to being a fully-fledged cinematographer, I didn’t have to work my way up through the whole established union hierarchy of jobs.”

The team of David ‘Sudz’ Sutherland, who studied at York’s Department of Film & Video from 1989-1991, and partner Jennifer Holness (BA ’92), was nominated three times for the romantic comedy, Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. The film, produced by Holness, was up for Best Motion Picture, won by The Triplets of Belleville, while Sutherland was nominated for Achievements in Direction and Original Screenplay. The couple, who met at York, were featured in the Feb. 25, 2004 issue of YFile and in the Summer 2004 YorkU magazine.

York alumna Bronwen Hughes (BFA ‘85) was nominated for Achievement in Direction for Stander, the true-life story of André Stander, South African police captain turned bank robber.

A trio of writers with York connections were nominated for Adapted Screenplay: John Palmer, who taught courses in playwrighting in 1991-1992, alumnus Jaie Laplante (BFA ‘92) and Todd Klinck, who studied at York from 1993 to 1995, worked on the script for Sugar, which Palmer also directed.

Carl Bessai (BFA ‘89 & MFA ‘92), director and co-producer of emile, for which actor Ian McKellen received a nomination for best-actor, scored a coup by persuading McKellen, who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings triology, to star in this film about a man exploring his Canadian roots and looking to redeem his relationship with his niece.

The full list of nominees and award winners is available at the official Genie Awards Web site.