Ellen Page walks ‘Freeheld’ red carpet with girlfriend Samantha Thomas

15 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ellen Page introduced the world to her girlfriend at Toronto International Film Festival.

At a festival full of high-profile films about L.G.B.T. characters, it’s no surprise that Freeheld was one of the hottest tickets on Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Julianne Moore and Ellen Page play a real-life lesbian couple who battle New Jersey politicians for their rights in the well-meaning but fairly predictable tear-jerker “Freeheld.” Moore commands the screen as Laurel Hester, who has worked for the police department in Ocean County, NJ, for 23 years. At a party before the film’s premiere, hosted by Vanity Fair, Lionsgate, and Entertainment One, star Ellen Page mingled with well-wishers alongside both her real-life girlfriend, Samantha Thomas, and her on-screen wife, Julianne Moore, who greeted Vanity Fair’s senior West Coast editor Krista Smith on the red carpet outside. It was a pretty fitting place for the pair to make their first public appearance: in Freeheld, Page plays a woman whose terminally ill girlfriend (played by Julianne Moore) fights to transfer her earned pension benefits. She’s tough and so deeply closeted that her longtime police-force partner Dane (Michael Shannon) is surprised to discover she’s living with Stacie (Ellen Page), the auto mechanic who’s been her domestic partner of one year, when he drops by unannounced with a housewarming present.

Although they’ve been dating for several months, the premiere of Page’s new movie, “Freeheld,” offered the perfect opportunity for her to show off Thomas to the Hollywood public. Based on a true story which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2007, the story follows New Jersey police officer Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s battle with terminal cancer. They were joined by many of the Hollywood players who have decamped north of the border during the festival, from Lionsgate chief marketing officer Tim Palen to Freeheld director Peter Sollett and Orange Is the New Black’s Ruby Rose, who along with Page made chic women in menswear a theme of the evening. Page and Thomas even underscored their official couple status by donning coordinating black-and-white ensembles — something that a similarly-clad Ruby Rose also noticed.

Thomas is a talented artist who works across a variety of disciplines, including oil painting and modern abstract and structural pieces, according to her personal website. According to , the two were hardly hiding their relationship from the public up to this point, as they’ve been posting a cavalcade of Instagram pictures with each other and have been spotted out and about together in New York City.

Wishing to pass her pension on to girlfriend Stacie Andree, the two become swept up in a wave of protest when the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Ocean County, New Jersey refuses to accept their request. Freeheld star Michael Shannon told us that his favorite kind of festival party is “the one where they keep bringing you food and drinks,” and the Vanity Fair party, sponsored by Hugo Boss and Jaeger-LeCoultre, fit that bill, hosted at the downtown Toronto restaurant owned by Ivan Reitman, Montecito. Her main concern is that the much younger Stacie be allowed to collect a survivor’s pension under the state’s relatively new domestic partnership laws. Her latest series of work, “Texture/Paramater,” explores “the limits of the traditional canvas.” The Texas native was offered a golf scholarship to the University of Tulsa, she said in her Baku interview. Ellen came out as gay in 2014 when she spoke at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time To THRIVE conference for LGBTQ (Lesian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) youth.

Reitman himself worked the room, which was decorated with photographs from behind the scenes of Ghostbusters, Meatballs, and more of his classic films. Thomas decided to leave behind her talent on the green, however, and instead moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in a fine art course at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. It was an emotional speech which saw the Canadian actress admit she is ‘sick of lying by omission’ and told audiences: ‘I’m here today because I am gay. Reitman may be the reigning king of the Toronto Film Festival—there’s a whole downtown corner named for his family—but many of this year’s festival’s brightest lights were in attendance, too, including The Martian’s Donald Glover, Spotlight director Tom McCarthy, and Brie Larson, who chatted about her recent film Digging for Fire even as Room held its first festival screening. Even a personal appeal by Laurel, a well-known and highly respected figure in the community, fails to bring a reversal from five men worried about their re-election.

And because maybe I can make a difference.’ The star spent much of 2015 filming her new TV show Gaycation With Ellen Page and went head-to-head with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz at an Iowa State Fair in August, asking the Texan senator about LGBTQ rights and religious freedoms. Those bright lights also included the real people behind the true story of Freeheld, which is based on the 2007 documentary of the same name, about New Jersey policewoman Laurel Hester’s fight to extend her death benefits to her partner, Stacie Andree. The senator is a staunch evangelical Christian and responded to Ellen’s claims that LGBTQ Americans were being fired for their sexuality by suggesting that ‘Bible-believing Christians’ were also being ‘persecuted for living according to their faith’.

Andree, played by Page in the film, was in attendance at the party, along with Hester’s police partner Dane Wells (played by Michael Shannon) and Lynda Hester D’Orio, Laurel’s sister. Shannon admitted, “I don’t think Dane cares for the attention very much, he just wants Laurel’s story to be out there.” Based on how much of the festival’s elite came to celebrate the film, that story is certainly getting out there.

Dane rallies Laurel’s fellow cops, who have been warned by the chief not to get involved in what he terms a “political dispute,” and he runs down crucial information after a tip from the one freeholder (Josh Charles) leaning toward Laurel’s side. Since then, she’s made a name for herself in the art community thanks to her exploration of unique techniques such as 3D sculptures and work using various kinds of fabric. But the pedestrian direction by Peter Sollett (“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) is strictly Lifetime movie-caliber, shameless in milking Laurel’s plight for every last tear.

Moore’s harrowing performance is probably too soon and too similar to her work as an Alzheimer’s victim in last year’s “Still Alice” to merit serious awards attention. Page, newly out in real life, seems slightly uncomfortable in an underwritten role — a problem possibly magnified by the barely referenced 26-year age difference between her and Moore. “Freeheld” does a service by highlighting the kind of inequality that hopefully will be remedied by the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

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