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October 14, 2012

The wonderful Sarah Polley reveals a deep family secret in "Stories We Tell"

I have long admired this under the radar Canadian actress, superb in every film she's been in.

Excerpts from Kempton Lam's October 13 Examiner.com story follow.

Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" (which opened yesterday) is a documentary that chronicles the story of her family, including the revelation that the filmmaker was the product of an extramarital affair.

Polley's story may be intensely personal but it is also universal, heartbreaking, well-crafted, and both more dramatic and funnier than most feature films these days.

It shouldn't have worked, this manic mix of home movie footage, a Greek chorus of Sarah Polley's siblings and friends, as well as Polley's father himself all sharing this sprawling story about the secrets of the late Diane Polley — wife, actress, and mother of five.

Yet somehow it all hangs together and from the many voices, tears, laughs, and surprises, the audience gets something so much more than just a Canadian actress and director sharing a secret. The film is about all of us: how we remember, how we self-edit our own lives, and what gaps in the narrative say about us.

Polley wrote and posted a revealing National Film Board blog entry when the film opened in Venice. She wrote, "I have spent five years deciding, frame by frame and word by word, how to tell this story in this film."

It is hopeful and inspiring to read that a few decent and ethical Canadian journalists kept Polley's secrets — which gave her time to tell her story in her own way. In the words of one of the journalists, Brian D. Johnson, "If you're looking for evidence that Canada's media culture is a kinder, gentler place than its American and British counterparts, look no further than the case of Sarah Polley. Today the 33-year-old Toronto filmmaker and actress finally went public with a family secret that has been known to certain members of the film community and the media for well over a year — that actor Michael Polley, the man she's called Dad all her life, is not her biological father, and that her mother, who died when she was 11, conceived her during an extra-marital affair."

And in Polley's own words, "I also learned that people can be more decent and ethical than you imagine. Several journalists, including Brian Johnson and Matthew Hays (and more recently Gabe Gonda, the arts editor at The Globe and Mail), have known this story for years. And while they very much wanted to print it, they all respected my wish to keep this story private until I was ready to tell it in my own words. I'm so thankful to them for letting me have the space to explore this on my own, ask the questions I wanted to ask, and let this film come out into the world. I never could have made it if I hadn't had that space and time."

 

 

October 14, 2012 at 08:01 PM | Permalink


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Comments

She was amazingly good in that movie...um..Liam Neeson..oil rig..Bosnian war survivor. Yeah, that.

Posted by: Becs | Oct 16, 2012 4:50:38 PM

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