Title: Stories We Tell - SFIFF56 Trailer | Posted on 2014 02 09 in Blog

Stories We Tell

A vivacious force of nature, actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley’s mother died when her daughter was just a child.

In the wake of a startling revelation, Polley intersperses observations from her large blended family, her mother’s friends and archival footage in her first documentary, and manages to articulate wider ideas of how people confront their personal histories while telling the very particular story of her own.

This film would have to be one of the most incredible doucmentaries I've seen in a long time. I have become an instant fan of Polley and her work and will now actively seek to view her life's work in its entirety.

The story alone is incredibly personal and moving but what also left a lasting impression is the approach to the story telling.

The use of the subjects' voices and the way in which their personalities were able to shine through was subtle and effective. I loved the way we got glimpses of them when the film was rolling but they though they were "off camera". Those personal moments before the "game face" is switched on. I'm also a massive fan of documentaties where the subjects tell the story.

I think there is also a lot to be said for the personal connection Polley had with each of the subjects and her ability to cut to some tough questions, as well as have them more openly reveal their feelings and emotions aorund the unfolding information.

Technically, the use of Super 8 and filters of film over recreations to step back in time is clever. I presumed most of the footage was archival, when really a lot was produced at the hand of Polley's dramatic direction. The reveal of that fact toward the end of the film opens the audience up to an understanding to Polley's creative process.

The repetitive use of particular footage was also effective and incredibly interesting. It reinforced the changing meanings of action and behaviour as the story unfolded. As an audience member, the scene would take on a richer, more layered meaning than the last.

I liked the way in which Polley draws the audiene into the story, but also reveals the creative film production processes. As a practitioner, it lended greater gravitas to the documentary as a work of art.

Five stars,