Arts & Entertainment
3 min

FILM: Funkytown snubbed by Jutra and Genie awards

Billingual disco picture hailed by critics, cleaned up at box office

Quebec playwright and screenwriter Steve Galluccio is staying away from the Genie and Jutra awards because his film Funkytown was passed over for best-film nominations.
Quebec’s film business is thriving. Director Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar was even nominated for a best foreign-language Oscar this year. What is surprising is that Steve Galluccio’s critically acclaimed Funkytown – one of the top 10 grossing made-in-Quebec films of last year – was snubbed in the best film categories at both the Jutra and Genie awards.
Funkytown is not just a drugs- and sex-fuelled romp
set in the disco heyday of 1970s Montreal; it is also fully bilingual and politically charged.
The film got one Jutra nomination for makeup and just two Genie nods: art direction/production design and best original song. Galluccio says that’s why he didn’t attend the Genies on March 8 and will stay away from the Jutras on March 11.
“We were snubbed by the Genies but not as much as we were by the Jutras,” Galluccio says. “I think we were snubbed in the acting categories. Critics say Patrick Huard, Raymond Bouchard and Paul Doucet stole the movie. You don’t want to nominate us in the major categories? Fuck you, no big deal. But no Jutra nods for costumes and set design? We were the best-looking film of the year. Watching Funkytown you really are transported back to the 1970s.”
Could Funkytown’s bilingualism have alienated Jutra and Genie voters? “It’s an interesting theory, but who knows?” Gallucccio says, then cracks, “I think they’re just anti-disco.”
Adding insult to injury, the Genies did not credit Canadian soul singer Kim Richardson, either. She co-stars in Funkytown as a disco singer exploited by her record producer and is one of the songwriters on “Waiting for Your Touch,” the film’s theme, co-written by Galluccio and Jean Robitaille.
“I double-checked the nominees and went, ‘Holy fuck!’ I immediately called the production company, who contacted the Genies, who corrected the list of nominees,” Galluccio says. “I was horrified because here was life almost imitating art. But I admit I was also a little bit amused.”
While Funkytown did boffo box office in Quebec, Galluccio isn’t sitting on his laurels. He recently completed the screenplay for the sequel to his 2000 breakthrough play Mambo Italiano, about a closeted gay Italian couple. The work was translated into French by none other than Québécois gay literary icon Michel Tremblay and was adapted for a 2003 English film starring Ginette Reno and Paul Sorvino.
Galluccio’s new book, Montréal à la Galluccio (Les Éditions de l’Homme) is set for release on April 4.
“This is not one of those boring guidebooks, and it’s not a best of. It’s just about places that I like to go to hang out or shop,” Galluccio says. “It’s a sarcastic, sometimes bitchy look at my city, with sections on restaurants, cafés, outdoor terraces, boutiques, clothing stores for men and women, bars and promenades.”
These days Galluccio is most invested in Les 39 Marches, the French adaptation of the hit Broadway play The 39 Steps. Galluccio, producer Denise Robert (wife of film director Denys Arcand) and Pierre Marchand secured the French-Canadian rights for The 39 Steps and are producing it in Quebec without any public money.
“Denise and I saw the play together in New York and absolutely fell in love with it,” Galluccio says. “Our next trip to New York we negotiated the rights for French Canada. We’ll have previews in L’Assomption in June, then premiere July 4 to 22 at L’Étoile Theatre in Brossard before moving to Montreal. We’re looking at a major 900-seat theatre there, before touring across Quebec, including Quebec City in October.”
Galluccio, along with playwright Brad Fraser, has been publicly vocal in his support of playwright Michael Healey, who left Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre in January over a dispute over Healey’s new play Proud, which reportedly features a character based on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I also wrote directly to the Tarragon and didn’t even get a response from them,” Galluccio sighs. “All I know is this would never have happened in Quebec, which is obsessed with federal cuts to the arts. But had it happened, there would have been a huge public outcry.”
What about the planned Broadway musical based on Mambo Italiano with renowned New York City producers Jean Cheever and Tom Polum, whose rock musical Toxic Avenger was a huge success off-Broadway?
“It was originally supposed to go for the 2012/2013 season, but it’s very hard to get something done on Broadway right now,” Galluccio explains. “They renewed their option last October. But as a New York producer recently told me, ever since the success of The Book of Mormon, there has been a shift to more raw, more edgy theatre on Broadway. That may or may not bode well for Mambo. I think everyone is scratching their heads now. Is this just a fad? It’s an interesting time for Broadway shows.”
Should Mambo ever open on Broadway, Galluccio hopes they can sign Broadway legend Patti Lupone to star as Maria Barberini (the role played by Ginette Reno in the film version).
“We’ve already talked about this with the producers,” Galluccio says. “It’s still my dream.”