Stories We Tell
Winter 2013 Documentary series
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 7:00pm
Directed by Sarah Polley
Screenplay by Sarah Polley
Starring Geoffrey Bowes, Deirdre Bowen, and Pixie Bigelow
Rated PG ·
Stories We Tell
I think it’s a universal thing in every family that people have their own specific versions of pivotal events or even small memories. To them, they are 100 percent certain that their recollections are the truth, because whatever the truth is, as they recall it, has formed them and it is part of their history. Discrepancies in memory preoccupy families, and the idea of this fascinated me. –Sarah Polley
“In the few short years since acclaimed Canadian actor Sarah Polley first revealed her remarkable talents as a writer and director, audiences have already come to expect the aesthetic rigour and reserved yet deeply felt emotion she brings to her studies of human relationships. In her first two features, Away From Her and Take This Waltz, she rendered the complexities of intimacy and desire with the eloquence and control of filmmakers with far more experience. Away From Her in particular asked questions about how we can know ourselves or assess our lives if we can’t agree on the events of the past. Memory is truth — at least emotional truth. And nowhere in life are shared memories more fiercely contested than in the family.
“Stories We Tell, Polley’s maiden voyage into the world of documentary, is at heart a personal essay on the intractable subjects of truth and memory. Using a combination of archival footage, still photos and testimonials in a captivating visual assemblage, Polley examines the disagreements and varying narratives of a single family as they look back on decades-old events.
“The responses from the “storytellers” chosen to share their version of things are heartfelt, revealing and even charmingly funny. The result is a lively and richly textured documentary that seamlessly blends past and present, the real and the imagined. Devoid of sensationalism and filled with tender and powerful moments, the film also serves as a loving homage to one key player who is no longer here to share her version.” (Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo, T.I.F.F. Programmer Notes)
“Stories We Tell is a movie you will want to see several times. It seems like a regular documentary, but by the end of the film, the doctrine and purity of ‘documentary’ has disappeared. This is in every sense a ‘story film’, and a great one, that lives up to the Neruda quoted in it: ‘Love is so short. Forgetting is so long.’ ” (David Thomson, The Guardian)
“In this inspired, genre-twisting film, Oscar-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who’s telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets behind a family of storytellers. She playfully interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions.
“As each relates their version of the family mythology, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of a lively, fun-loving past and the shadows just beneath. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: a messy, intense and loving tangle of contradictions. Stories We Tellexplores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story.” (National Film Board of Canada)