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Stories We Tell

This docu-essay from Sarah Polleys looks at the secrets her family kept


Canadian actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley (Away From Her) turns the camera on her own family in this examination of secrets, truth-seeking and the ripple effects of both. Polley grew up in a lively household in Toronto: Her mother was an actress, her dad a cheery man who enjoyed capturing the family on film. Some of these home movies form the backstory that Polley's film unfolds: Things were not always sunny in the Polley home. Because Sarah was the youngest, much of her information — particularly about her mother, who died young — is secondhand, from her dad and her four older siblings. But when Polley starts pressing for the veracity of the accepted family narrative, she discovers a colossal untruth. It would be unfair to reveal it here, but it's a whopper, and the second half of her docu-essay tracks the family re-ordering itself in light of the revelation. This is Polley's intimate story, of course, but she's wise enough to present her situation as a jumping-off point to ruminate on the general slippery nature of "family history."

Flamingo Fest at the National Aviary
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By Mars Johnson