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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.



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





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


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

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 January 2013 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

Histórias que Contamos  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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.
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Features Marriage Italian Style (1964) See more »


Storm at Sea
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.
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User Reviews

One of the Best Films You're Going to See
13 June 2013 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Stories We Tell (2012)

**** (out of 4)

Incredibly documentary from filmmaker Sarah Polley who as a child heard stories that the man she thought was her father might not have been. Through interviews with friends, families and those who knew her mother, Polley tries to figure out which part of these stories were true and who exactly her father is. STORIES WE TELL is without question one of the most memorable documentaries to come around in a very long time. I think a strong argument could be made that we're living in an era that has given us so many great documentaries but this here is without question one of the very best. The main focus is to find out who Polley's father is but at the same time the film is about so much more. Just seeing what impact a simple story can have on so many people was just interesting to watch in front of us and Polley pretty much turns this into a Hitchcock thriller because you just never know what twist is going to follow. The director does a terrific job at telling this story, bouncing around from those interviewed to help complete this picture but there's also the impact that her mother's decision had on everyone. There are clips of Polley inside a studio listening to the person she grew up believing was her father tell his side of this story. Just watching her reaction to some of these spoken words was incredibly touching. Also, just being able to see how different person tells the same story and what impact this had on them at the time they heard it was something fascinating. Usually many people might ask what makes Polley's story so special that we, the viewer, should invest time in listening to it. I think what makes STORIES WE TELL so fascinating is her story itself really isn't unlike any story we've probably got in our own closet. By hearing Polley's story you really start to think about some of your own stories and how many of them might be true or lies. Polley has made a name for herself with some pretty good indie dramas but this film here is certainly her crowning achievement so far.

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