SPOTLIGHT FILMS: Away from her

By Contributor
March 14th, 2013

Next week Spotlight Films presentsStories We Tell, a documentary that dissects reality.

Award winning writer/director, (and amazing actress, The Sweet Hereafter, Road to Avonlea, Dawn of the Dead),   Sarah Polley (Away From Her), plays the part of both filmmaker and detective as she documents a family story.  Through the process of delicately lifting away layers of family myth, Polley reveals the subjectivity of truth through playful interviews, or interrogations as one interviewee puts it.

The subject of the film is, on the surface, about the marriage of her parents, actor Michael Polley and Diane  MacMillan, who died from cancer just after Sarah’s 11th birthday. Diane was taken by Michael’s performance in The Caretaker, though Michael claims she was swept off her feet by the character rather than his dull unexciting self.

Polley’s characters (family and friends) of varying reliability weave a refreshingly candid tale through often contradictory answers to the same questions. Polley wants the subjects to talk openly and honestly about “the issue” that sparked the documentary, the dark plum hidden in the depths of the tale.

Through it all Polley manages to unravel the paradoxes of the family dynamic, revealing the essence of family, “always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving.”

This is a deeply personal film that explores the elusive nature of truth and memory that shape the remarkable mosaic that is the human story. In the midst of the investigation Michael provides a self-written monologue centering around “the issue” at the heart of the film.

After opening at the Venice Film Festival in August and September 2012, one reviewer wrote the following: “ Stories We tell is a finely crafted and incredibly moving work. Polley manages to break down her father’s protective comedic wall and get to the heart of his feelings.”

Stories We Tell has won two awards, including the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Canadian Film and Best Documentary and has been nominated for five others. There is also not so idle talk about a nomination for the 2014 Oscars for the highly rated flick. Even Rotten Tomatoes, a tough crowd, gave it an 8.3. Indeed, if the film is nominated at the Hollywood Glitz Fest it will be the 13th nomination for a National Film Board offering.

There will be a bit of a change in the showing date of the film. Rather than being the last Tuesday of the month Stories We Tell will be shown on Tuesday, Mar. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gem Theatre.

Spotlight Films would like to thank our sponsors and supporters and Maureen and Marius Paquet of the Gem Theatre.

Thanks to Brad Brevet, Peter Howell, Mary Corliss, IMDB and the National Film Board for the research information.

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