The quintessential Canadian war epic Passchendaele was the big winner at this year’s Genie Awards, picking up six statues including best motion picture Saturday, at a ceremony held for the first time outside of Toronto or Montreal.

The film, both a romance and a chronicle of harrowing First World War trench combat, was a labour of love for filmmaker Paul Gross. Gross directed, wrote, starred in and co-produced the $20 million movie, based loosely on his grandfather’s experiences overseas.

It won the Golden Reel award for biggest box office hit, making $4.5 million at the theatres after a unusually wide release for a Canadian flick.

Gross was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

The Necessities of Life (Ce qu’il faut pour vivre) won fewer awards, but picked up some in the most important categories: Best director for Benoit Pilon, best original screenplay for Bernard Emond, and best actor for Natar Ungalaaq, best editing for Richard Comeau.

The film was Canada’s official entry for the best foreign film Oscar, and made it to the semifinal round.

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