Debut filmmaker Sarah Polley wore out her boots at the 2008 Genie Awards Monday night.

The director and screenwriter of Away From Her and her collaborators made their way to the podium seven times in the evening, picking up every major award including Best Picture for producers Daniel Iron, Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss and Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and the Claude Jutra Award for Best Debut for Polley. Julie Christie was named Best Actress for her performance while co-star Gordon Pinsent took Best Actor and Kristen Thomson took Best Supporting Actress.

David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises also won seven Genies, winning Best Original Screenplay for Steve Knight, Best Supporting Actor for Armin Mueller-Stahl, Best Cinematography for long-time Cronenberg DP Peter Suschitzky, Best Score for another Cronenberg stalwart, Howard Shore, Best Editing for Ronald Sanders, and Best Overall Sound and Best Sound Editing.

Francois Girard's Silk won a Genie for Costume Design for Carlo Poggioli and Kazuko Kurosawa. Andrew Currie's zombie spoof Fido won the prize for Art Direction for Rob Gray and James Willcock. Roger Spottiswoode's Shake Hands With The Devil won for Best Original Song for 'Kaya' by Valanga Khoza and David Hirschfelder. Gary Burns, Jim Brown, Bonnie Thompson and Shirley Vercruysse won the Best Documentary Genie for Radiant City.

Amidst what was widely regarded as the strongest line-up of English-language titles in the event's history, French-language films were an unprecedented afterthought - despite multiple nominations for Denys Arcand's Days Of Darkness and Stephane Lafleur's Continental: A Film Without Guns. The only winners from Quebec were Best Live Action short drama Apres Tout by Alexis Fortier Gauthier and the Oscar-nominated Best Animated Short winner Madame Tutli-Putli by Maciek Szczerbowski, Chris Lavis and Marcy Page.

Nevertheless the Golden Reel prize, recognition of the country's highest-grossing film, went to Quebec title Les 3 P'tit Cochons.

Accepting the Best Direction prize Polley acknowledged the range of her competitors. 'The ridiculousness of winning in this category is not lost on me.' Julie Christie, who was unable to attend, delivered a video message to her young director, saying the production was the happiest film experience of her life. 'I would like to thank Canada for producing Sarah Polley.'

Cronenberg accepted two Genies on behalf of absent Eastern Promises winners and promised that, as opposed to previous years, he would send them on.

The evening's cause celebre was the brewing storm over pending federal legislation that would allow government bureaucrats to deny tax credits to productions that were 'contrary to public policy.' While many onstage protested the potential of government interference, in a backstage press conference presenter Lieutenant-General Romeo Dalaire, the UN commander of the ill-fated Rwandan peace-keeping mission, and a member of Canada's Senate said he would do what he could to stop the bill. 'I'm concerned about right-wing conservatism with an evangelical basis. The upside of this is it's in the open and we can discuss it.'