Elliot Page Calls His New Movie the 'Complete Highlight of My Career' at TIFF Red Carpet (Exclusive)

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The actor's latest film "Close to You" marks his first film role since 2017

<p>Michael Loccisano/Getty</p>  Elliot Page attends the "Close to You" premiere during the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival at Royal Alexandra Theatre on September 10, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario

Elliot Page is back on the red carpet.

As Page, 36, appeared at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday, the actor told PEOPLE he felt "grateful and nervous and excited, as one usually does before a premiere" as he debuted Close to You, his first movie in six years.

"This was a complete highlight of my career, personally," Page says of the film, which is mostly unscripted and improvised by the cast. "[Director Dominic Savage's] process, the experience of making a film in this way is not something I’ve done before. I feel grateful to be a part of his work and hope to do it again.”

Page, who also has a starring role in the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, last appeared in a feature film with 2017's Flatliners.

Close to You stars Page as a transgender man named Sam who returns to his hometown for the first time since he transitioned.

As he travels home, Sam "runs into Katherine (Hillary Baack), a friend from high school with her own complicated life now, and feelings from their unresolved past begin to bubble to the surface," per an official synopsis.

Related: Elliot Page Developed Shingles on 'Inception' Set Due to Stress and Internal Struggles

<p>Kennedy Pollard/Getty</p> Elliot Page attends as RBC Host "Close to You" Cocktail Party at RBC House Toronto International Film Festival 2023 on September 10, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario

Kennedy Pollard/Getty

Elliot Page attends as RBC Host "Close to You" Cocktail Party at RBC House Toronto International Film Festival 2023 on September 10, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario

Page was able to appear at the film festival even as the Screen Actors Guild remains on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since Close to You is an independent production that received an interim agreement from the guild.

He was previously spotted joining striking actors on a picket line in New York City in August and separately shared photo and video of himself on picket lines the same week.

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Page's new movie comes about three months after his memoir Pageboy was published in June. At TIFF, the actor says he believes his book has helped him connect with fans.

“People have been very kind and supportive and shared how it’s helped them or how they’ve connected with it," he tells PEOPLE. "That’s meant the absolute world to me, and, yes, having a book coming out was one of the more anxiety-ridden times of my life."

"It does feel like a weight’s lifted," Page adds.

Related: Stunning Revelations from Elliot Page Memoir: Secret Kate Mara Romance, Verbal Assault from A-Lister (Exclusive)

<p>Brian de Rivera Simon/Getty</p> Elliot Page and Dominic Savage with cast and crew attend the "Close to You" premiere during the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival at Royal Alexandra Theatre on September 10, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario

Brian de Rivera Simon/Getty

Elliot Page and Dominic Savage with cast and crew attend the "Close to You" premiere during the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival at Royal Alexandra Theatre on September 10, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario

Page also told Entertainment Weekly over the weekend that the film was a "liberating" experience three years after he came out as transgender.

"The way I get to feel working now is far more embodied coming from that foundation, versus entering and not feeling that way. It's a huge shift. Doing something like this, complete improv, before, would've been close to impossible," he said.

Close to You does not yet have a scheduled release in the United States; the movie is also scheduled to premiere at Canada's Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival on Sept. 23.

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