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Reitman to deliver Ubben Lecture

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Two-time Academy Award nominee Jason Reitman will deliver an Ubben Lecture at DePauw University at 7:30 p.m. March 15.
(Paramount Pictures/Dale Robinette)
GREENCASTLE -- Director Jason Reitman, whose latest film "Up in the Air" is nominated for six Academy Awards -- including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay -- will visit the campus of DePauw University eight days after the Oscar ceremony to deliver a Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture.

Reitman's talk will take place March 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium DePauw's Green Center for the Performing Arts. Like all Ubben Lectures, the program is presented free of admission charge and is open to all.

The son of Ivan Reitman, whose directing credits include "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes," Jason Reitman was born in Canada in 1977. He appeared in small acting parts and served as a production assistant on his father's films, learning techniques such as editing along the way.

An English and creative writing major at the University of Southern California, Reitman began making his own short films and directing commercials in his twenties.

His first feature film, "Thank You for Smoking," was released in 2005. Reitman developed the screenplay from a Christopher Buckley novel and directed the film, which grossed almost $40 million worldwide and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.

"Juno," released in 2007, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for four Academy Awards (best director, best screenplay, best picture and best actress) and was Roger Ebert's top film of the year.

Starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera, "Juno" grossed more than $140 million at the U.S. box office and earned Reitman several awards, including the 2008 Cinema for Peace Award for Most Valuable Work of Director, Producers & Screenwriter and Best Director at the 2008 Canadian Comedy Awards. Empire magazine's 2008 listing of the 500 greatest movies of all-time ranked Juno at number 463.

"Up in the Air," released in December, is based on a novel written by Walter Kim. George Clooney stars as a corporate downsizer who travels from city to city "who spends so much time traveling that he is most at home where he is a stranger," according to USA Today's Anthony Breznican.

Writing in September 2009, days before "Up in the Air" was screened at the Toronto Film Festival, Breznican stated, "A positive reception could establish Reitman among the year's Academy Award heavyweights while furthering the 31-year-old's status as one of his generation's best new filmmakers."

"It's tough to capture an era while it's still happening, yet 'Up in the Air' does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity," wrote Claudia Puig of USA Today. "Reitman emerges as a modern-day Frank Capra, capturing the nation's anxieties and culture of resilience."

"'Up in the Air' is a surprising film. Not surprising that it's good, but surprising because of how good it is," wrote Banner Graphic film critic Caine Gardner.

"The National Board of Review named "Up in the Air" 2009's best picture. The film received eight Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations and six Golden Globe nominations, with Reitman and Sheldon Turner winning the Best Adapted Screenplay award in both competitions.

On Feb. 6, Reitman, Turner and Kim were honored with USC's 2010 Scripter Award for adapted screenplay. The film has also received recognition from numerous critics' associations.

At the March 7 Academy Awards presentation, "Up in the Air" will be up for six awards: best director (Reitman), best adapted screenplay (Reitman and Turner), best actor (Clooney), and two of its stars are nominees for best supporting actress (Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga). Reitman and his father, who co-produced the film, are also named in the Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Now 32, Reitman is the youngest filmmaker to have received two Oscar nominations for best director.

"All of us have things to say and we just don't know how. Movies are kind of my way of dealing with my inner questions," Reitman told the newspaper.

Variety's Sharon Swart said Jason Reitman "doesn't pick the easiest subject matter, but that's the mark of a filmmaker who really wants to say something and isn't afraid to explore darker territory."

"Growing up the son of a director has made me very aware of the various turns that a directing career can take," Reitman told TIME. "Sometimes your films turn out exactly as you want. Sometimes they don't. I spent a lot of my childhood on sets. I think as a joke, my father gave me a line of dialogue in each of his films during the worst moments of my puberty. I don't really think of that as an acting career but more my father pushing me never to become an actor."

"Reitman could be considered one of the better talents coming out of Hollywood today. With flicks such as Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and now 'Up in the Air,' you see a young director who has progressed with each picture and looks to only be getting better," said Gardner.

"With these three films at the dawn of his career, we can only imagine what comes next. He makes smart, edgy mainstream films. That's harder than making smart, edgy indies," Ebert opined in the Chicago Sun-Times.

George Clooney called Reitman one of the best directors he's ever worked with.

"And with each film he gets better," Clooney shared with the New York Times. "He's nice. He's smart. He's accomplished. I hate him."

Jason Reitman's résumé also includes directing two episodes of the hit NBC comedy series, "The Office," and a filmed segment for Saturday Night Live.

Established in 1986 through the generous support of 1958 DePauw graduates Timothy H. and Sharon Williams Ubben, the Ubben Lecture Series was designed to "bring the world to Greencastle" and presents events which are available for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the local community to enjoy.

On Nov. 30, 2009, "SuperFreakonomics" co-author Steven D. Levitt visited DePauw, while the first-ever Ubben Debate brought Howard Dean and Karl Rove to campus on September 11, 2009. Other previous guests have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Tony Blair, Benazir Bhutto, Spike Lee, Margaret Thatcher, Shimon Peres, Willy Brandt, John Major, Peyton Manning, General Colin Powell, Elie Wiesel, Jane Pauley, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, Greg Mortenson, Todd Rundgren, Ross Perot, General Wesley Clark, Naomi Wolf, David Plouffe, Paul Volcker, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Barbara Bush, Ralph Nader, Mitch Albom, Frank Warren, Harry Belafonte, Mike Krzyzewski, Julian Bond, E.O. Wilson, Jesse Jackson, David McCullough, Paul Rusesabagina, Paul Tsongas, Brian Mulroney, Ken Burns, George Will, Eric Schlosser and Sister Helen Prejean.

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