Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie Buzz: Stories We Tell

In reading more about the Telluride Film Festival, I learned of Sarah Polley's latest film "Stories We Tell." I'm not sure how I missed this film but once you learn a little about it, I guess it's not that surprising. Plus, I've been working like crazy, as you can tell by my lack of posts over the summer, so I guess it's not unheard of.

As soon as I saw the mention of Sarah Polley's name, my heart jumped. I am in love with her film "Away From Her" (2006). (It shares subject matter with one of my biggest fears and is just a gorgeous film, starring the beautiful Julie Christie and equally wonderful Gordon Pinsent.)
There's not much out there about this film besides what the Canadian filmmaker and actress has already said. She's actually withholding from doing interviews and such until the film comes out. She wants people to experience the film for themselves without preconceived notions from journalists, reviewers, bloggers or the like. Sounds a little crazy in an industry that wants to tease you with any little tidbit to get you to buy a ticket. Ms. Polley is anything but a typical Hollywood type, which is why I love her (in addition to her amazing directing and acting abilities). 

Film, Doccumentary, Toronto Venice Telluride Film Festival
Promotional Image for Sarah Polley "Stories We Tell"
Her full statement on the film is available on the National Film Board of Canada website. She gives clues to the plot of the film and the events that started the process. It's a deeply personal film to her, perhaps more documentary than many documentaries. I for one am fascinated by storytelling, which I feel I'm terrible at but my sister and grandfather had a great gift for, and am excited to see this film though the subject matter may be emotional. In order to avoid becoming one of those people that put her own spin on the story, here are a few direct quotes to give you more information:  

"In 2007... I received a phone call from a friend warning me that a journalist had found out a piece of information about my life that I had kept a secret for a year. I got in touch with the journalist and begged him not to print the story... It took some time and many tears to convince the journalist not to print the story within the week... I flew to Toronto that night to tell my father the news. He was not my biological father.
My father’s response to this staggering piece of news was extraordinary... He was shocked, but not angry... then he began to write. And write and write and write.
He wrote the story of their marriage, her affair (which he put together from other people’s memories), and his relationship with me. He wrote about our need to tell stories.
My biological father, at my behest, had also begun writing the story of his relationship with my mother... Each of us had a deep and growing need to tell the story, different parts of it, in different ways, with emphasis on different details, in a way that reflected our own experience and what was most important to us as we are now.
...the process of watching a story take on a life of its own, mutate, and change in so many other people’s words fascinated me.  And as the story was told, or perhaps because the story was told – it changed. So I decided to make a film about our need to tell stories, to own our stories, to understand them, and to have them heard.
...what I wanted most was to examine the many versions of this story, how people held onto them, how they agreed and disagreed with each other, and how powerful and necessary creating narrative is for us to make sense of our bewildering lives.
I worry about seeing my deepest feelings about my life taken out of context or shortened or made to fit into someone’s already written story. And I have spent five years deciding, frame by frame and word by word, how to tell this story in this film.
...I desperately want, at least while the film is on the festival circuit, to have people experience and write about the film before the story – or to experience the many stories that this story has become as opposed to just my version of it. It is, after all, why I made the film in the first place... I’m trying to preserve as much of the experience of viewing it for the first time as I can for those who wish to see it, for better or for worse."

Sarah Polley and her father, Michael Polley, after the TIFF premiere of her new documentary,
"Stories We Tell." (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / September 7, 2012)
I HIGHLY encourage you to read Ms. Polley's full blog post as the above is very abbreviated and leaves out many details and so much of her personal investment in the film.

The film is currently on the festival curcuit and has made appearances in Venice, Telluride (TFF), and Toronto (TIFF). It is scheduled to open in Canada on October 12th and, as of Monday, received a US distributor, Roadside Attractions, for 2013. Thank goodness! I would much rather see this on the big screen than wait another 6 months for a DVD release!
Be sure to check out this LA Times article because it includes quotes from the Director Q&A that happened at the Toronto screening. I am attempting to avoid reading anymore about this film so that I can see it as the Director intends. If you are interested in additional articles or reviews, check out these from NPR, IndieWire, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety

You didn't think I'd forget about the promised trailer, did you? 

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