The Review/Podcast/

TIFF UN/CUT: Documentaries are Sarah Polley’s Favourite Medium

The Canadian actor-turned-director is a storyteller through and through

Aug 29, 2017

Sarah Polley began her prolific career in film at an early age — the age of four, to be precise, when she first appeared in the holiday Disney film One Magic Christmas. Her later roles collaborating with directors like Atom Egoyan in The Sweet Hereafter, Terry Gilliam in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and Doug Liman in Go showcased a fierce intelligence and emotional intuition that would later prove instrumental when she transitioned to working on the other side of the camera. In 2001, Polley attended the Director’s Lab at Norman Jewison’s renowned Canadian Film Centre. Her 2008 debut feature Away From Her, which she directed and adapted from Alice Munro’s New Yorker short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” highlighted her strengths in rich characterization. Julie Christie, one of the film’s stars, got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role, while Polley received her own nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2008 Academy Awards. Polley’s ensuing films, which include the 2011 romantic drama Take This Waltz and the 2012 documentary Stories We Tell, have cemented the filmmaker as one of Canada’s most adaptable auteurs.

In this episode of TIFF UN/CUT, you’ll hear Polley interviewed on stage at the 2012 TIFF Industry Doc Conference by documentary programmer Thom Powers. Primarily discussing Polley’s Stories We Tell, they dissect the knotty complexities of revealing family secrets and why documentary is Polley’s favourite medium.

Sarah Polley’s newest project is a forthcoming miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel Alias Grace, in which she serves as the showrunner and executive producer. The miniseries will premiere at TIFF ’17 with Polley, star Sarah Gadon, and director Mary Harron in attendance. For more documentary coverage, check out Thom Powers’ podcast Pure Nonfiction on the TIFF Podcast Network.

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