*SPOILER ALERT* -- do NOT read on if you don't want to know!
Set to screen at this year's Toronto Film Festival, "Stories We Tell" isn't fiction. It's her first-ever documentary and it's about families, and how each family member often has different versions of the same story to tell.
But, as Polley wrote in a blog for the National Film Board of Canada, the documentary is actually more of a personal tale. After many years of insider family jokes about her parentage, Polley discovered in 2006 that she was actually the product of her mother Diane's extra-marital affair. In other words, the father she grew up with was not actually her biological father.
According to The Globe and Mail, "Stories We Tell" chronicles some of this revelatory information while simultaneously peppering in staged recreations. At some turns, the documentary is ambiguous, but in other scenes (especially after reading Polley's blog), it's clear that this is mostly an autobiographical project.
Polley states in her blog: "I'm not claiming that my film lacks self involvement but what I wanted most was to examine the many versions of this story, how people held onto them, how they agreed and disagreed with each other, and how powerful and necessary creating narrative is for us to make sense of our bewildering lives. I wanted the story told in the words of everyone I could find who could speak about it. Whatever my own feelings are about the events that are outlined, about the many dynamic and complicated players or the stunning, vibrant woman my mother was, they are ephemeral, constantly out of my grasp, they change as the years pass."
Canadian media outlets were left flummoxed after numerous TIFF press releases about the film stated that Polley would "not be participating in any interviews" for the movie -- a very bizarre thing considering Polley lives and works out of Toronto. This, at least, helps explain why Polley doesn't want to be poked and prodded about very personal issues.
"Stories We Tell" premieres at TIFF on September 7.