59 user 180 critic

Stories We Tell (2012)

2:32 | Trailer
A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.


Sarah Polley


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





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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



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 »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


Herself - Storyteller: We have to reconstruct what happened in the past.
See more »


Features Marriage Italian Style (1964) See more »


Ain't Misbehavin
Written by Fats Waller (as Thomas 'Fats' Waller), Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf
Performed by Paul Weston and Jo Stafford
Published by EMI Mills Music, Inc (ASCAP) and Razaf Music
All rights administered by Primary Wave Music Publishing, LLC/Wixen Music
Publishing, Inc.
Courtesy of Hanover Music Corp./Corinthian Records
See more »

User Reviews

Stories They Tell
22 October 2013 | by DexIMFSee all my reviews

Intriguing, but not as emotionally overwhelming for the audience as it is for the storytellers. There is ever so palpable, cold detachment from the story's emotional spine. Maybe, it's because of the lack of perspective of the person who wanted this story to be out there- Sarah Polley herself. You can sense subtle reactions coming from her whenever she is on screen, for however little time, and build her point-of-view in your head. But that would be just another version of story in this baggage of different perspectives. Also, I would rather she hadn't filmed dramatized clips of real-life incidents and trust the audience's imagination.

All that being said, it does not take away anything from the fact that "Stories We Tell" is a fascinating concept. If nothing else, it works as a brilliant think-piece on subjectivity of memories and distorted truth by different perspectives.

8 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 59 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

17 January 2013 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

Stories We Tell See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,053, 12 May 2013

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed