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Canadian Screen Awards Winners: Rebelle (War Witch), Flashpoint Win Big

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Martin Short flies through the air as he hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 3, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Martin Short flies through the air as he hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 3, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

TORONTO -- "Rebelle" ruled while "Flashpoint" continued to burn bright at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday, as the best in homegrown film and television gathered for a new joint bash hosted by an off-the-wall Martin Short -- who brought along his popular alter ego Ed Grimley.

The Oscar-nominated child soldier drama "Rebelle" dominated the film categories with a whopping 10 trophies, including wins for best film, best director, best screenplay and best actress for its teenage star, Rachel Mwanza. It had been up for 12 awards.

"I'm very touched," said Montreal director Kim Nguyen as he collected the best director prize.

"I'd like to dedicate this to the women in the Congo, their strength, their courage and their resilience."

Meanwhile, perennial TV favourite "Flashpoint" took the top prizes in the TV race, including best drama and best dramatic actor for star Enrico Colantoni. That was in addition to four previous prizes it collected at a pre-gala bash.

"Of course, I didn't have anything prepared because I don't do that," Colantoni said to chuckles from the audience.

"At the very least, I'd like to tell the Canadian Revenue Agency that I am going to write this suit off. So here's the proof," he smirked, gaining applause from the audience before going on to thank his director, writer and the show's creators.

Short kicked off the new awards show -- which combined the Geminis and the Genies -- with a musical opening that saw him hoisted by wires to soar over the star-studded audience.

"They had me so high up there I could see both of Mike Duffy's houses," quipped Short, keeping things topical for his Canuck audience.

He later lobbed affectionate barbs at Canadian celebrities Don Cherry, Rick Mercer and "The Bachelor Canada" winner Brad Smith, and took aim at recent Oscar winner "Argo," which earned criticism for downplaying Canada's role in rescuing six U.S. citizens caught up in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

"It's always nice to be home," Short said to a star-studded audience including James Cromwell, Jay Baruchel, Sandra Oh and Stephen Amell.

"I flew in on Air Canada. Or as Ben Affleck calls it, American Airlines."

"Rebelle" -- which lost the foreign-language Oscar last week to Austria's "Amour" -- also picked up trophies for best screenplay, editing, cinematography, sound editing, overall sound and art direction/production design.

While walking the red carpet before the bash, Nguyen said he was happy to shine the spotlight on his film crew, noting it was "a team effort."

"We were always in an improvisational kind of mode and we were always in-the-moment. For that to work, we had to have a team that was really on cue and that was the case," he said.

Xavier Dolan's gender-bending feature "Laurence Anyways" collected prizes for best make-up and costume design.

The best TV comedy trophy went to The Movie Network's "Less Than Kind," besting The Movie Network/Move Central's "Good God," Showcase/Action's "Kenny Hotz Triumph of the Will," CBC's "Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays" and CBC's "Mr. D."

"The series started with the unfortunate passing of Maury Chaykin, not a great place to start a comedy," said showrunner Mark McKinney, going on to complain that the prestige category was not part of the televised bash, but instead handed out at an earlier ceremony.

"This is Canadian comedy. We'll see you on-air next year."

McKinney also won for best writing in a comedy, while "Less Thank Kind" co-star Wendel Meldrum won for best comic actress. The series also earned a best editing trophy.

CTV's "Flashpoint," meanwhile, claimed the top drama prize over CBC's "Arctic Air," Global's "Bomb Girls," Showcase's "Continuum" and Showcase's "King."

Earlier on the red carpet, Colantoni said he was grateful for the continued support.

"This whole thing, this has nothing to do with why we do what we do, but it's always nice," he said.

"Nothing surpasses the feeling of, of course, being hired by people who are wonderful and creative people like the people on 'Flashpoint' so it all starts from there. And then everything you got to do on that show and then to almost consistently every year to be recognized, it's fantastic."

Polley won the best documentary prize for her acclaimed confessional "Stories We Tell." It was up against "Alphee des etoiles," "Indie Game: The Movie," "Over My Dead Body" and "The World Before Her."

"Mostly I have to thank my incredible family: Mark, Johnny, Joe. You'll recognize Mark and Johnny are the only people who have beer glasses in their cup holders right now," said Polley, who interrogated her siblings on camera for the tale, which traces their late mother's double life.

"(And) Johnny, Joe, Susie, my amazing vibrant mother Diane Polley, my incredible father Michael Polley, the writer and the voice who inspired this film."

The revamped bash was part of sweeping changes the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television brought in to draw bigger audiences to "a bigger show with bigger impact."

When the merged bash was announced last year, Academy chair Martin Katz pointed to the Golden Globes and British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards as worthy role models.

In a bizarre twist, reality star Jody Claman of "The Real Housewives of Vancouver" accepted the best news anchor trophy on behalf of winner Peter Mansbridge when he wasn't there to accept in the show's non-televised portion. Claman was there to present the award along with co-stars Ronnie Negus and Mary Zilba.

Bravo's period saga "The Borgias" was named best international drama and Salman Rushdie won for best adapted screenplay, for adapting his novel for the sweeping feature "Midnight's Children."

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