Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Watch: Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace in Sundance's 'End of the Tour' (Exclusive Interview) Watch: Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace in Sundance's 'End of the Tour' (Exclusive Interview) Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Sundance Market Explodes with 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Sundance Market Explodes with 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 
'The Witch' Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 'The Witch' Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Oscar Predictions 2015 Oscar Predictions 2015

Sarah Polley Candidly Talks Must-See Memoir 'Stories We Tell' UPDATED (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO, TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 4, 2013 at 1:09PM

Transparency is Canadian writer-actress-director Sarah Polley's credo, as you can see in our candid video interview about her memoir "Stories We Tell." When Polley showed the documentary she was stunned that when people came up to her afterwards it was not to talk about her family mysteries, but their own. It turns out that she struck a universal chord.
0
"Stories We Tell"
"Stories We Tell"

So she used multiple points-of-view, including home movies of her mother, who died when she was 11, dramatic recreations, and her father's own writing, to unfold the story, as well as Super-8 B-roll footage of her conducting interviews with her family. Even showing the process of making the film left things up for grabs and open to interpretation, she says. "You're constantly questioning what people telling you, constantly questing."

She admits that the final film, as complex as it turned out to be, was far simpler than some of her 200-page single-spaced treatments. She ditched, for example, an entire framing device with a narrator on a theater stage presenting players, with all her interview subjects in the audience, she admits: "We got three quarters of the way and didn't need it." 

As Polley immersed herself in the role of detective in her own family, she discovered a great deal about her lost mother. "One of the great joys of making this film was all the things I was learning about her," she says. "She was growing and changing, it was an amazing thing that happened, she came alive. As I learn more, perceptions change...She was all of the things people say she was, dynamic and vibrant and lovely and warm and a little bit crazy. She was a mass of contradictions, that's what we're all like."

The other thing Polley learned, especially as she threw out her own narrative point-of-view in favor of her family's, was how to listen: "I don't know how many opportunities we have in our life to ask them for their versions of things and just listen, not interrupt and argue, just listen. We all have such a personal stake in what happened, constantly interrupting and not hearing the entire story. I loved not being forced into the scenario, it was not my job to have a conversation or convince them of my version. I let details I disagreed with go by. It was an amazing experience I'd love to take with me in real life."

Throughout, the hardest thing for Polley was trying to let the movie speak for itself without offering up too much information about its revelations. While "it's not fair to not talk about what people want to talk about," she says, "I try not to offer up twists."

Nor do we. See the film.


This article is related to: Sarah Polley, Stories We Tell, Awards Season Roundup


E-Mail Updates