7.6/10
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49 user 176 critic

Stories We Tell (2012)

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2:32 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

Sarah Polley

Writers:

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

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Cast

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

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 January 2013 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

Histórias que Contamos See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,053, 12 May 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,599,038, 4 October 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sarah collected all the stories first. She went through all the period footage she had available. After that, she hired actors to recreate and reenact bits filmed on 8mm to complete the missing period footage. This explains why there is always "proof" of all the raconteurs stories. It works rather as flashbacks to place us in situation. Excellently done. See more »

Quotes

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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Connections

Features Mr. Nobody (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

A Funeral Procession
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

 
"Stories We Tell" is rich and affecting storytelling at it's finest.
22 July 2013 | by swp_1988See all my reviews

Sarah Polley has set the stage in mind for many years to tell a simple story. Much like the process of forming a story, things are always taken back to the storyboard and new influences are introduced. Sarah ultimately made the natural choice to deliver this story by simply setting the basis and allowing each party to tell the story as they know it, in every detail from each individual memory.

Stories We Tell works a unique twist on the documentary format and allows the audiences into the life of the family and friends who knew the filmmakers mother, Diane Polley. An eccentric ball of energy with the appearance of an open book, she might have really been a big mystery and her secrets could cause a rift throughout all those connected. Family and friends from all corners step up to the plate and what's heard are a melding of scripted order and the unscripted nature of each individual and their memories of the events that unfolded. At times it's an interview, at others it's a humorous interrogation; we witness the mystery unfolding in a truly compelling, warm and emotional fashion. It's a wonderful case study on human beings and how we shape ourselves throughout a lifetime and the events that can change our lives forever. It's fascinating to see how we all perceive moments and how our memories contain them. Different characters have different takes and yet the feelings resonate the same.

Sarah Polley took the right path and remained on the sideline and behind the camera until it was absolutely paramount. The real people tell their stories and actors portray history with an uncanny authenticity. It delivers the reality and the real people involved without bogging down the narrative. This is rich and affecting storytelling at it's finest.


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