Toronto's huge Roy Thompson Hall was the scene of the TIFF world premiere of Freeheld, which ended with an audience 2,600-plus strong jumping to its feet and filling the hall with deafening applause and cheers as stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page took a bow.
Moore, who picked up the Best Actress Oscar for Still Alice (which debuted at TIFF a year ago) is already being rumored for another trip to the Motion Picture Academy's big night for her performance in Freeheld.
Moore plays a decorated New Jersey police detective, diagnosed with cancer, who wants to bequeath her pension to her domestic partner (Page), but the couple's local government won't recognize their domestic partnership and therefore won't grant any equal protections. It's a battle that should feel familiar to the untold number of same sex couples who are denied benefits, housing, access to legal and medical records and equal protection under local, state and federal laws.
"Discrimination of any kind is usually the result when people consider others as just that: 'other people,' people who are distant by gender, race or culture," Moore told Boise Weekly on the red carpet prior to the screening. "The more openness you have, the more tolerant you become. That's one of the things that a film can do. It's a bit harder to be more intolerant to those people who are close to us."
Freeheld is heady but just when we need it most, the wonderful Steve Carell enters the story as LGBT advocate Steven Goldstein.
"That's Steven with a 'V' and V means very gay," says Goldstein, who leads the defense in the fight against Ocean City, N.J. elected officials, dubbed "Freeholders," a term dating back to Colonial times when it referred to those who held real estate. In a real sense, the film's title, Freeheld, has double meaning: the true story of a couple held back by elected "freeholders," yet also held up and supported by members of their community in a transformative moment in a fight for equality.