As I quoted elsewhere (who quotes themselves these days?!) Sarah Polley is:
“someone I deeply admire, and have for some time, as a charismatic and powerful figure in the film industry, Sarah Polley appears to be a rare commodity these days.”
I confess to not really knowing who this fascinating Canadian actress was until seeing her in two films by Atom Egoyan (at his career peak); firstly in Exotica in 1994, but most memorably for me as Nicole in the superb The Sweet Hereafter. Polley’s subtle, emotive performance here, as well as the lasting impact of the film itself, are both difficult to forget. Nor do I want to. I visited The Sweet Hereafter again recently, still as beautiful as ever. Polley is remarkable in this, and it is quite the entrance into my world – especially too with “Courage” the song she sings in and for the movie, which I have not got out of my head since 1997.
What I am really here to talk about, before I get lost deep down in Sarah-love, is Polley’s ability as a film director. She made her debut with Away from Her in 2006, throttling us with a reminder of how good Julie Christie can be. Then took a side step with Take This Waltz, another accomplished effort, before taking a genre-switch by making a documentary. With the brilliant, insightful Stories We Tell, Polley has written and directed a compelling documentary about an aspect of her own private life – one which delves, without arrogance or claiming-for-fame, into a secret of her own past and crucial to her identity. I won’t go on and spoil the whole experience, except to say she sits back and allows her history to unfold, utilizing her unique talent as a maker of films only to tell the story.
As part of the encouraging Directed by Women movie-watching binge in September, I now implore you all to watch Stories We Tell this very evening. A live global online event. Plus discussion of course. Given the tricky time zones across the world getting everyone from the four corners of the globe to sit down and watch a movie at the same time is very tricky indeed, so have decided this time to just be flexible with the screening times. This is all one big experiment anyway. I’ll happily watch it when I get home from work at 6pm GMT or I can wait until 1am GMT if I really must. Now that is a 7-hour time slot (not taking into account the running time), but with Los Angeles 8 hours behind me, and Pakistan 4 hours ahead (for example) you can appreciate how difficult “global” becomes. Regardless, we shall muddle along for tonight, and every other night if necessary.
Everyone is of course welcome to just join in the discussion, whether you have seen the film or not. You can comment below, as well as seeking out the Stories We Tell event on Facebook and Twitter. Please show your interest for this, and suggest times best for you. Also, any ideas or suggestions you might have for Twitter hashtags to distinguish each screening / discussion are more than welcome. #PolleyStories? In the meantime, enjoy the experience, and look out for upcoming movies directed by women we can all embrace.
Coming Soon: Somewhere; Blackfish; Middle of Nowhere; Obvious Child.