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Director Gia Milani is photographed while promoting her new film, All the Wrong Reasons, in Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9, 2013.

Jennifer Roberts/The Globe and Mail

Fredericton director Gia Milani has won the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival – for a film that was "hours away" from not getting made when it was rescued last year by late Glee star Cory Monteith.

All the Wrong Reasons, with an ensemble cast led by Monteith, had its world premiere at TIFF Sunday. On Monday, Milani, its writer/director, won the emerging filmmaker award. Milani, who is in her 30s, has made three short films. This is her first feature.

Milani started writing the film five years ago. Inspired by a friend suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, the film tells the story of four big-box store employees, including security camera monitor Kate (Karine Vanasse) who, suffering from PTSD, cannot stand to be touched. Her husband James (Monteith), the store's ambitious manager, wants his wife back.

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The film was shot on location on the east coast last summer and about to go into production when the actors cast in the two lead roles dropped out, one day after the next. On a Thursday, when the actor playing James left, it appeared to be the end of the film.

"My producer said we're going to have to shut down," Milani says. With nothing to lose, she sent the script to Monteith's agent. Monteith, who was born in Calgary and raised in Victoria, started reading it on Saturday night between interviews at Comic-Con and finished it on his way back to Los Angeles. He called Milani the next day to accept. Four hours later, he was on a plane.

"He did save the film," she says.

Sunday marked the first time Milani had seen the film since Monteith's drug-and-alcohol-related death in Vancouver in July. She could not bring herself to watch the film since then, she said on Monday. She wanted to do it with an audience.

Milani is now writing her next film, about an 18-year-old woman who finds herself on her own after her foster family chooses not to adopt her. Milani will use the $10,000 Discovery Award to help fund the project.

"It's an honour, for sure," Milani says. "I didn't expect it."

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