Stories We Tell
Canada, 2012 (documentary, 109 minutes, colour / black and white, English)
Also known as
"Apáim története", "Histórias que Contamos", "Historie rodzinne", "Les histoires qu'on raconte"
|Photo © National Film Board of Canada|
"In this inspired, genre-twisting new 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 kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and 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 their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. Stories We Tell explores 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
|Film Credits (partial):
||Anita Lee, Silva Basmajian|
||Rebecca Jenkins, Peter Evans, Alex Hatz, Justin Goodhand, Seamus Morrison, Allie MacDonald, Lani Billard, Andrew Church, Dave Kiner, Jef Mallory, Kristen Corvers, Christine Horne, Jeanie Calleja, James Downing, Tracey Ferencz, Eric Hanson, Kaylin Griffin, Mairtin O'Carrigan, Thomas Hauff|
||Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin, Susy Buchan, John Buchan, Mark Polley, Joanna Polley, Cathy Gulkin, Marie Murphy, Robert MacMillan, Anne Tait, Deirdre Bowen, Victoria Mitchell, Mort Ransen, Geoffrey Bowes, Tom Butler, Pixie Bigelow, Claire Walker|
||National Film Board of Canada / Office national du film du Canada|
||Narration writer [auteur de la narration]: Michael Polley|
Awards won by Stories We Tell
Quotes by the Director
"I wanted to share my experience of hearing the different versions and the way they were converging and diverging. And to let the audience have the experience of being the observer -- being me."
-- Sarah Polley
"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."
-- Sarah Polley
"The story [for Take This Waltz] sort of came out of nowhere, I didn't know why I was writing it, and then I think it was halfway through making this film [Stories We Tell] that I kind of got it and I went, 'I think this is the film I've been making over and over again.' [...] And not just Take This Waltz but every short film I've made and Away from Her -- it's always about a long-term relationship, an infidelity and in many ways how the man kind of absorbs that. [...] I think a lot of filmmakers make the same film over and over again without knowing it. It's just that now I've gone into the cave and made a film about the actual figures in the cave that were casting these shadows."
-- Sarah Polley
Quotes by the Director [in French]
"J'ai été estomaquée de constater que ce petit film sur mon histoire familiale pouvait intéresser les gens et les toucher de cette façon. Je crois que les spectateurs pensent à leur propre famille en regardant ce film. Et s'identifient d'une manière ou d'une autre à mon histoire. Pour ma part, il y a fort à parier que je ne pourrai jamais réaliser un autre film qui résonnera en moi de façon aussi personnelle."
-- Sarah Polley
"J'aime toujours me placer à la frontière du vrai et du faux. Je cherchais aussi à mélanger les notions de narration, de mémoire et de vérité tout en jouant sur la forme et la structure. C'est surtout un film sur la manière de raconter des histoires, et du besoin que nous avons tous de les exprimer."
-- Sarah Polley
Quotes about Stories We Tell
"Polley tackles painful issues with candour and tact. She has a gripping tale to tell. It's a film that raises questions
about the ownership of memory and ownership of narrative."
-- Peter Bradshaw
"The title [Stories We Tell] may appear blandly noncommittal at first glance, but proves more telling as it becomes clear that [Sarah] Polley is less concerned with family history than with family narratives, and how oft-repeated untruths and assumptions can distort or even fabricate memories. Similarly, Polley's own storytelling is deceptively artful in its orchestration: What seems a happy shuffle of freeform talking-head interviews is actually sequenced into a startling series of reveals. Meanwhile, through canny casting and filming, apparent homevideo footage emerges as wistful reconstruction, as the director underlines the pliability and artifice of all her contributors' recollections -- her own included."
-- Guy Lodge
"In this sequence, [Sarah] Polley's mother Diane is happy and standing on Wallace Avenue Footbridge. The challenges of trying to determine if this is archival footage or a Super-8 recreation with Rebecca Jenkins playing Diane mirror and foreground those of telling a family story which, as Stories We Tell reveals, is constantly shaped by the narrator, his or her personal feelings and the distortion of memory."
-- Tom Ue
Quote about Stories We Tell [in French]
"On prendra [...] intérêt à suivre les témoignages de tous les proches et de tous les intervenants de l'histoire. Il en ressort une authenticité tangible. Sans jamais s'épancher, sans jamais, non plus, s'appuyer sur des effets dramatiques, avec humour aussi parfois, Sarah Polley propose un film étonnant, universel en ce qu'il force le spectateur à se ramener à sa propre histoire. Elle ne pouvait faire plus beaux portraits de famille."
-- Marc-André Lussier
Publications by the Director about Stories We Tell
Bibliography for Stories We Tell
- Ue, Tom. "Stories We Tell (2012)." In World Film Locations: Toronto, edited by Tom Ue, 120-121. Bristol: Intellect, 2014.
Newspaper or Magazine Articles
- Adams, Mark. "Stories We Tell." Review of Stories We Tell. Screen International, August 30, 2012.
- Bielski, Zosia. "'It's a wonderful story about fathers'." Globe and Mail, August 31, 2012.
- Bradshaw, Peter. "Stories We Tell." Review of Stories We Tell. Guardian, August 30, 2012.
- Braun, Liz. "Brilliant story best told in the watching." Review of Stories We Tell. Toronto Sun, October 12, 2012.
- Braun, Liz. "Family affair: In making Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley came to learn much about, and admire, the 'astounding' mother who died when she was 11." Interview with Sarah Polley. Toronto Sun, October 12, 2012.
- Carraway, Kate. "When family secrets aren't taken to the grave." National Post, October 12, 2012.
- Dunlevy, T'Cha. "Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell liberates director from her past: Without talking about it, the actor and director delivers an intensely personal story." Interview with Sarah Polley. Montreal Gazette, October 19, 2012.
- French, Philip. "The consequences of a brief encounter." Review of Stories We Tell. Observer (U.K.), August 19, 2012.
- Groen, Rick. "Show, don't tell: Sarah Polley's documentary about her family and its secrets is sensitive, intelligent and technically accomplished. Rick Groen explains why it still fails as a film." Review of Stories We Tell. Globe and Mail, October 12, 2012.
- Hontebeyrie, Isabelle. "Le secret de Sarah Polley : Les histoires qu'on raconte." Interview with Sarah Polley. Journal de Montréal, October 13, 2012. [in French]
- Howell, Peter. "Sarah Polley's journey of self-discovery." Interview with Sarah Polley. Toronto Star, October 6, 2012.
- Howell, Peter. "Stories We Tell." Review of Stories We Tell. Toronto Star, October 12, 2012.
- Knight, Chris. "In the name of the father; Sarah Polley comes to terms with her family's history in Stories We Tell." Review of Stories We Tell. National Post, October 12, 2012.
- Knight, Chris. "Parental guidance suggested: 'My hope is that people project their own families on to this,' Sarah Polley says of her new doc Stories We Tell, which explores her own relative secrets." Interview with Sarah Polley. National Post, October 11, 2012.
- Lavoie, André. "Tout sur sa mère, ou presque : La réalisatrice Sarah Polley présente le documentaire Stories We Tell." Interview with Sarah Polley. Le Devoir, October 19, 2012. [in French]
- Lodge, Guy. "Stories We Tell." Review of Stories We Tell. Variety, September 3, 2012.
- Lussier, Marc-André. "Secrets de famille." Interview with Sarah Polley. La Presse, October 20, 2012. [in French]
- Lussier, Marc-André. "Stories We Tell : de beaux portraits." Review of Stories We Tell. La Presse, October 18, 2012. [in French]
- Mintz, Corey. "Dining out on Polley family stories." Toronto Star, October 13, 2012.
- Monk, Katherine. "Bringing ghosts to life: Sarah Polley's searing documentary combines gothic romance, suspense saga and biographical portrait." Review of Stories We Tell. Ottawa Citizen, October 26, 2012.
- Monk, Katherine. "Sarah Polley uncovers 'the mess of life' in family-based doc." Interview with Sarah Polley. Ottawa Citizen, October 19, 2012.
- Presse Canadienne. "Un secret de famille inspire à Sarah Polley son prochain documentaire." Le Devoir, August 31, 2012. [in French]
- Provencher, Normand. "Secrets de famille." Review of Stories We Tell. Le Soleil (Québec), November 9, 2012. [in French]
- Romney, Jonathan. "All aboard the rickshaw of love." Review of Stories We Tell. Independent on Sunday, August 19, 2012.
- Salutin, Rick. "Sarah Polley tells a story." Toronto Star, October 12, 2012.
- Schneller, Johanna. "Settling affairs." Interview with Sarah Polley. Globe and Mail, October 6, 2012.
- Szklarski, Cassandra. "Polley mines family secrets for genre-blurring doc 'Stories We Tell'." Interview with Sarah Polley. Edmonton Journal, October 8, 2012.
- Wong, Tony. "Sarah Polley's big secret: Actress breaks the news with movie about dad." Toronto Star, August 30, 2012.
Web Sites about Stories We Tell