7.6/10
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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.

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23 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 January 2013 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

Histórias que Contamos  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$27,053 (USA) (10 May 2013)

Gross:

$1,599,038 (USA) (4 October 2013)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Himself - 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.
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Connections

Features Marriage Italian Style (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Horses! Horses! Horses!
Written by Abraham Lass
From PLAY ME A MOVIE (Folkways Records/AH 3856)
Courtesy of TRF Production Music Libraries and Alpha Music Inc. and
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
© 1971 Used by permission.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sort of like a 'making of the documentary' film as much as an actual documentary.
23 January 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

'STORIES WE TELL': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley wrote and directed this documentary about a long kept family secret. She interviewed several family members and close friends and had her father Michael Polly narrate the movie (by reading from his memoir). Polley also recorded reenactments of significant events in her family's history, with a Super-8 camera, making the video appear like old home movies. She cast actors as key players in the scenes; like Rebecca Jenkins as her mother Dianne (who lost a battle to cancer when Sarah was just 11). The whole film revolves around her mother and a possible affair she had, which may have led to Sarah's conception. I found it to be well made and somewhat interesting but not overly involving or emotionally fascinating.

The movie is presented sort of like a 'making of the documentary' film as much as an actual documentary. Polley records her father reading the narration and includes a lot of the commentary and dialogue they had between takes (often highlighting moments when she'd ask him to repeat a line). The interviews are shown with outtakes included as well and I at first didn't realize the Super-8 footage was fake but the film includes 'behind the scenes' video of that too. I think the methods Polley used (of presenting a story) are interesting and unique; they also definitely distinguish it (quite a bit) from similar documentaries.

The movie got rave reviews and is actually one of the best rated films of the year (by critics). Despite this it failed to secure an Oscar nomination for 'Best Documentary'. I haven't seen most of the films nominated in that category (this year) but I don't think this is up to par with what I usually expect from a 'Best Documentary' film. It's filmed in an interesting way but it doesn't quite grab the viewer and impact them emotionally the way the filmmakers want it to (at least it didn't for me). Still it is a good documentary that's worth seeing though.

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