Stories We Tell (2012)

As a young Canadian talent who starred as Ramona Quimby in Ramona (1988-89) and Sara Stanley on Road to Avonlea (1990-96), we’re all familiar with Sarah Polley. She grew up to take on heavier roles with writer/director Atom Egoyan as an adult and finally found her stride as an award-winning director, writer and producer. Her path in the entertainment industry was no surprise, coming from parents who were both actors. But how did her parents meet? Who were they as people? And what secrets did they harbour deep in their hearts? In the 2012 documentary Stories We Tell, Polley digs into her family history to get to the truth of a marriage and her mother’s secret through the eyes of her closest family, friends, and trusted colleagues of her parents.

Michael and Diane Polley, Sarah’s parents, had an enduring but troubled love. Diane had a magnetic personality, full of laughter and joy; always busy and scattered, but everyone she met remembered her. Michael was more of an introvert. He was slower and less interested in being the centre of attention. When Diane passes away, leaving a young Sarah, her siblings  motherless, the loss leaves a deep emptiness.  It brings up questions the family never addressed until a carelessly tossed out joke becomes a real inquiry. Sarah decides to explore her family’s memories through interviews and re-enactments, all narrated by her father, Michael Polley. The result is an intimate memoir about two entirely opposite humans coming together in love, family, grief, and the pain of secrets.

Review by Carolyn Mauricette


Sarah Polley




Free to Watch, TIFF, Women's Stories

Canadian connection

Writer/Director Sarah Polley
Added to TIFF's Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time in 2015