Today’s Sundance profiles close out with the second of two docs in the Spotlight section: Sarah Polley’s STORIES WE TELL, a personal investigation into family secrets.
Sundance Program Description:
Actor/director Sarah Polley previously attended the Sundance Film Festival as a filmmaker with her shorts DON’T THINK TWICE and I SHOUT LOVE and her first feature film, 2007’s AWAY FROM HER. Her latest is a riveting and joyful personal documentary that has screened at the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals.
Polley turns the camera on her own family and creates an essay/love letter to her actor parents: Diane, who passed away when she was 11, and Michael. In the process, she investigates a mystery she initially wasn’t even sure existed. When Polley pulls back the layers of the stories told by her siblings and close family friends, differing perceptions and buried secrets rise to the surface—with some very surprising revelations.
In pursuit of truth through art, Polley creates and recreates the past by using home movies and original footage, enfolding it in a rich, spellbinding, and emotionally affecting narrative. Five years in the making, STORIES WE TELL is about the stories told within Polley’s own family, but also the ones we all tell—and the way everybody’s truth is the truth.
As noted above, two of Polley’s previous directing efforts screened in Park City, while she has acted in more than half a dozen other Sundance alum titles, from SPLICE (2010) to THE HANGING GARDEN (1998). Producer Anita Lee has previously worked with director John Greyson, and is the founder of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.
Why You Should Watch:
Polley’s first foray into documentary filmmaking demonstrates a playful approach to the form, using subtle re-creations to underscore her central concerns with storytelling and memory. Personal, but at the same time held at something of a distance, the film engenders a strange fascination in the viewer that echoes Polley’s own, almost voyeuristic, probe into her parents’ secrets, resulting in a sense that the audience is clandestinely reading her family’s personal letters over the director’s shoulder.