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Festwatch

48-hour party people

It was super-weekend at TIFF. Our team reports from the front lines on the stars, the parties, and why Clooney finds love scenes fun

From Monday's Globe and Mail

Toronto — Saturday

2:30 a.m.

Late nights and early mornings are par for the course at TIFF. Killer Films, producers of Helen Hunt's directorial debut Then She Found Me, inks a reported $2-million distribution deal with ThinkFilm for U.S. rights. Canadian rights, French and English, went to Montreal's TVA Films. Then - which Hunt has been working on for almost eight years, off and on, as co-writer and co-producer - came to TIFF looking for distributorship and got it less than seven hours after its world premiere at the Elgin Theatre. Others bidding for U.S. rights include The Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate.

10 a.m.

Michael Moore, who created a bit of a buzz when he showed up on the red carpet Friday night sans ball cap, is back to his regular self today, defending his new documentary Captain Mike Across America against critics who charge it is a vanity project - and, of course, offering his take on the 2008 American presidential election.

The Democrats, he says, will win in a landslide. But he immediately gives himself an out, saying Democrats are also "professionals at screwing things up."

Moore also notes that his latest documentary, Sicko, recently edged out An Inconvenient Truth as the third most successful documentary of all time, behind his own Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine. "But I understand Al Gore's asking for a recount," he adds.

11 a.m.

Juno, described sarcastically by its writer, first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody, as "an all-American comedy about the scourge of teenage pregnancy," is proving to be one of this year's surprise festival gems. Juno's director, Jason Reitman, son of Ivan, tells a press conference that the film resonated with him at a time when he was becoming a father for the first time. "My daughter is the daughter of a director and the granddaughter of a director, so she'll probably be very screwed up," he says. "She'll be pregnant by the time she's 12."

Actor Jason Bateman, when asked about what it was like being reunited with Michael Cera, his on-screen son from the TV show Arrested Development, is all yucks: "We don't have any scenes together, but I like the subtle through-line of incest whereby I'm adopting his child," he says, causing the painfully shy Cera to blush.

12 p.m.

The female television camera operator waiting for the press conference for Eastern Promises says she is half-Russian, and while she isn't sure what she thinks about David Cronenberg's new film, she offers one endorsement: "Viggo Mortensen's Russian accent? Impeccable."

For Mortensen, who speaks English, Danish and Spanish fluently, and can handle himself in French, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian, one more language on his resumé is apparently no big deal. "When you're speaking a different language, you feel differently," he says. "It's not just the muscles in your mouth, but your posture and the way you present yourself."

French co-star Vincent Cassels says he and Mortensen "tried to use as much Russian as possible because, to be realistic, when two Russian characters are speaking together, they wouldn't be speaking English, so we kept trying to add more Russian phrases. David Cronenberg was going, 'What are you two saying to each other?' "

"It was like some creeping disease," Cronenberg says. "You wake up one morning and everyone is speaking Russian."

A cadre of actors dressed in maroon-and-gold track suits pass out orange Tic Tacs to bewildered passers-by at the corner of Bloor and Bay. They're promoting Juno. A Tic Tac obsession is but one quirk of the sweet high-school track star played by Michael Cera, who, thanks to the enduring love for his cancelled series Arrested Development and his star turn in the summer hit Superbad, has one of the hottest careers going right now. In the film, Junoname of character (the astonishing Ellen Page) tells him: "You're so cool, and you don't even try." His reply always gets a laugh: "I try really hard, actually."

Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Don Cheadle come out in force to support Africa, a cause close to their hearts. They're all at the Royal Cinema for a private screening of the documentary Running the Sahara - narrated and co-produced by Damon - about three extreme marathoners who crossed six countries, and 7,200 kilometres, in 111 days. Damon takes to the stage to present the film, thanking music superstars Wyclef Jean (also in attendance) and Bono for supplying songs for the soundtrack. Bono planned to come to the screening, Damon says, but had to cancel to attend Luciano Pavarotti's funeral. Also warming seats at the screening was Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex. Later that night, Damon and his wife, and Canadian heartthrob Kevin Segers (The Jane Austen Book Club), showed up together at the CTV bash supporting the film.

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