7.5/10
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Stories We Tell (2012)

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A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.

Director:

Sarah Polley

Writers:

Sarah Polley, Michael Polley (narration)
24 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Polley Michael Polley ... Himself - Storyteller
Harry Gulkin Harry Gulkin ... Himself - Storyteller
Susy Buchan Susy Buchan ... Herself - Storyteller
John Buchan ... Himself - Storyteller
Mark Polley Mark Polley ... Himself - Storyteller
Joanna Polley Joanna Polley ... Herself - Storyteller
Cathy Gulkin Cathy Gulkin ... Herself - Storyteller
Marie Murphy Marie Murphy ... Herself - Storyteller
Robert MacMillan Robert MacMillan ... Himself - Storyteller
Anne Tait Anne Tait ... Herself - Storyteller
Deirdre Bowen Deirdre Bowen ... Herself - Storyteller
Victoria Mitchell Victoria Mitchell ... Herself - Storyteller
Mort Ransen Mort Ransen ... Himself - Storyteller
Geoffrey Bowes Geoffrey Bowes ... Himself - Storyteller (as Geoff Bowes)
Tom Butler ... Himself - Storyteller
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Storyline

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 ... Written by The National Film Board of Canada

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving sexuality, brief strong language and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 January 2013 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

Histórias que Contamos See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,053, 12 May 2013

Gross USA:

$1,600,145

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,641,053
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sarah collected all the stories first. She went through all the period footage she had available. After that, she hired actors to recreate and reenact bits filmed on 8mm to complete the missing period footage. This explains why there is always "proof" of all the raconteurs stories. It works rather as flashbacks to place us in situation. See more »

Quotes

Michael Polley - Storyteller: When you're in the middle of a story, it isn't a story at all but rather a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood, like a house in a whirlwind or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard are powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all, when you're telling it to yourself or someone else.
See more »

Connections

Features Anna Christie (1930) See more »

Soundtracks

Demon Host
Written by Taylor Kirk
Performed by Timber Timbre
Courtesy of Arts & Crafts Productions
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sarah Polley's touching documentary wallows in greatness both in cinema and emotion...
9 May 2013 | by ClaytonDavisSee all my reviews

Sarah Polley continues to become one of the most innovative and inventive directors working today and its proved by what she spills out on the silver screen in her newest endeavor Stories We Tell. A compelling and personal documentary about her own life, Stories We Tell blends and fuses the magic of non-fiction with the imagination of the cinematic mind.

Telling the story of her own inception, family life, and personal struggle with her own sense of being, Sarah Polley invites the audience into a world that otherwise would seem shameful and dreary but ends up rising triumphant and inspired. While documentaries often take a very serious, somber, and issue-driven approach, Polley's film proves that real life can be just as magnetic without an epiphany of theatrics or cheap camera tricks. Stories We Tell takes cinematic risks that pay off tremendously in both execution partnered with Iris Ng's stunning cinematography. This is one of the best things that the movies have offered this year yet.

When one takes on a personal subject like their family, you always run the risk of starting your film with a wall between you and the audience from the first frame. Family is one of those things that you can only appreciate when you're a part of the madness. If I sit here and tell you countless stories of brothers and sisters bickering, falling in an apple ditch, or simply the origin of our creations, a disinterest may become prevalent because what makes my story any more real than yours? Unless we have some extraordinary circumstances, family is all relative and subjective. Polley's family feels real. While there are painstakingly clear alignments between my family life and hers, the film goes beyond anything that documentaries have offered viewers before. It's not too often you grow to care about members of a family in a 108 minute stretch unless your last name is Brady, Seaver, or Winslow. It's amazing to watch one story, told from different perspectives, yielding different results and emotions. Why Polley decided to do it, I'm not so sure. Maybe it was her own way of making sense of her unfortunate hand that was dealt or perhaps it was a way of release, living with so many unanswered questions, possibly still until this day. I'm grateful she let me in to tell her story. We should all be grateful.

There are surprises, innuendos, and things that the film embraces that must be saved for anyone on the first viewing. All I can say is, Polley has likely set a new precedent and encouragement for filmmakers to do similar experiments in the future. A film such as this that follows the life of people like Jack Nicholson or Angelina Jolie would definitely build an anticipation for many to see. Stories We Tell is kind to soul and heartwarmingly relevant. A film to be remembered. The film played at this year's Montclair Film Festival and is scheduled to be released May 17, 2013.


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