Two years ago, director Jason Reitman, writer Diablo Cody and actress Ellen Page watched a surprise hit being born as their baby, "Juno," was given an enthusiastic group hug at the Toronto International Film Festival.|
by Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today, published on September 11, 2009
"It wasn't until the standing ovation at the premiere that I realized that this special little movie we had created might not be so little after all," says Page of the low-budget comedy about a smart-mouth pregnant teen. It went on to collect $143.5 million at the box office, earned Oscar nominations for picture, director, actress and screenplay -- plus a win for Cody's script.
As the 34th edition of North America's foremost fest kicks off again this year -- it began Thursday and it wraps up Sept. 19 -- the three Juno-teers are back. Each has a distinctively different film, all among the big must-sees.
Oscar rumbles already have begun for Reitman's "Up in the Air," a comedy-drama with George Clooney as a professional downsizer whose greatest joy is racking up frequent-flier miles. Just two weeks ago, the filmmaker was rushing to finish in time for the Saturday premiere.
"That's how important Toronto is for me," says Reitman, a Canadian raised in Los Angeles whose debut, "Thank You for Smoking," sparked a bidding war. "I consider it the birthplace of my movies. ... It's my gauge for whether I am being dramatic or honest enough."
Page, also Canadian, plays a beauty-pageant regular turned roller-derby dynamo in "Whip It," costar Drew Barrymore's directorial debut that was filmed in metro Detroit and takes its public bow on Sunday.
"I think audiences will be blown away by this incredible sport portrayed in the movie," she predicts of the coming-of-age comedy.
During her first visit in 2007, Cody was thrilled to see Italy's primo fear-monger Dario Argento present his "Mother of Tears" at the Midnight Madness portion of the festival. Thursday night, she was to stand in that same spotlight with "Jennifer's Body," a comedic horror thriller starring Megan Fox as a satanic high school flesh eater. "It's pretty freaky," she says of the opening-day honor. "I can't believe it is all happening."