"I'm interested in the way we tell stories about our lives"
May 14, 2013 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Sarah Polley, previously, is a Canadian actress and director whose new documentary Stories We Tell is about her own family's story. Or stories. And how storytelling shapes us. Sarah Polley's Meta Masterpiece

In a blog post for Canada's NFB, Polley writes:
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.
Can Science Explain Why We Tell Stories?
Stories, more even than stars or spectacle, are still the currency of life, or commercial entertainment, and look likely to last longer than the euro. There’s no escaping stories, or the pressures to tell them. And so the pathetic story-pitcher turns to pop science—to Jonathan Gottschall’s new book, “The Storytelling Animal,” for instance— for some scientific, or at least speculative, ideas about what makes stories work and why we like them. Gottschall’s encouraging thesis is that human beings are natural storytellers—that they can’t help telling stories, and that they turn things that aren’t really stories into stories because they like narratives so much. Everything—faith, science, love—needs a story for people to find it plausible. No story, no sale.

O.K. Anyone in dissent? But this claim, itself hardly momentous, then opens onto something sadly like a forced march of the platitudes: We all like stories.
Creatures of Coherence: Why We're So Obsessed With Causation
Others who have replicated Michotte’s test have discerned similar results. “Experiments have shown that six-month-old infants see the sequence of events as a cause-effect scenario, and they indicate surprise when the sequence is altered,” Kahneman writes. “We are evidently ready from birth to have impressions of causality.”
posted by the man of twists and turns (18 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Eventually, we may not be the only storytellers. Xapagy is a "cognitive architecture" that may be "a step towards a human-like AI." via.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:07 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a Canadian boy who grew up in those awkward early teens watching Road to Avonlea, I have had a crush on Sarah Polley since oh, about 1990. I think the career she's building for herself with her directorial work is very exciting. We need more great women directors, and more great Canadian filmmakers. Go Sarah.
posted by hamandcheese at 4:45 PM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]

Go Sarah.

Correct. There is no way I can think of in which Sarah Polley is not awesome.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:59 PM on May 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

There's no doubt that this will be worth watching.

I mentioned once before here that I was fortunate to spend a few days hanging around the set while Sarah was filming a movie, and had the opportunity to engage in conversations and, mostly just listen. She is a fascinating individual, obviously brilliant, creative. She came across as a sincere, honest person.

Making a film like this must have been difficult, especially nuancing the art of drawing out the truth and not destroying individuals or relationships in the process.
posted by HuronBob at 5:00 PM on May 14, 2013

Almost anything and anyone to do with Hollywood is so crude and shallow compared to real life. Sarah Polley turns that on its head: something about both her nature and her work makes real life -- as I experience it, at least -- seem crude and shallow by comparison. I gotta love her for that even if it makes me more than a little wistful.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:03 PM on May 14, 2013

A reporter found out this secret a few years or so after she did and called her for a comment. She asked him not to report on it -- I think, in part, because she was making this film. He didn't report on it. No one in the Canadian media did. The first I'd heard of it was when I heard of this film. I think that's kind of awesome.

And I can't wait to see it. I love Sarah.
posted by aclevername at 5:19 PM on May 14, 2013

ugh loved her since Ramona. I had a book about the casting and behind the scenes of the show. She is major cool.
posted by sweetkid at 5:25 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I saw 'Stories We Tell', and I highly recommend it.
I also recommend 'The Sweet Hereafter', in which Sarah Polley's character has a pivotal role.
I love Sarah, too. That is all.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:08 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

ooh this opens Friday here in NYC.
posted by sweetkid at 8:16 PM on May 14, 2013

I saw Stories We Tell shortly after it was released and it is excellent. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes documentaries (or good movies in general). Michael Polley actually narrates the film, which sort of blew my mind when I thought about the conflicting feelings he probably had about the subject. But one thing's for sure: he loves his daughter very much.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:29 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do love Sarah Polley (thanks to my boyfriend) and I wanted to applaud when we first saw the trailer for this in theatres. Can't wait.
posted by mykescipark at 8:54 PM on May 14, 2013

Her version of The Tragically Hip's 'Courage' in The Sweet Hereafter is absolutely exquisite. Think she does a Jane Siberry song as well. What a talent.
posted by misterbee at 9:43 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

IMO The Sweet Hereafter is a must-watch movie.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:59 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lemme me tell a Sarah Polly story, since we're all up in narrative-town here:

I was working/languishing at the Urban Outfitters on Yonge St. in downtown Toronto, sometime around 2000 or 2001. At the time, UO was pushing some sort of racist "urban gypspy" look that involved raw silk everything, mirrored boxes, pretend moroccan tea cups, and lots of gauzy "tapestries" (i.e., bolts of printed cloth). Polly came in, red-eyed and visibly stoned out of her tree, and proceeded to engage me in an eternal conversation about which combination of tapestries she should buy to hang in her bedroom. I think she was going for maximum eye-bleed, because she eventually went with a mint green one, a salmon pink one, and a light mocha one. In any case, she was so sweet throughout the whole interaction, that I totally forgave her for shopping at Urban Outfitters.

So, yay Sarah Polly.
posted by LMGM at 3:12 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't want to spoil anything in this movie. I'll just say it's really good and you should see it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

So, yay Sarah Polly.

posted by sweetkid at 5:24 PM on May 15, 2013

I just saw this last night and can confirm it is truly excellent. Definitely see it!
posted by sweetkid at 9:23 AM on May 19, 2013

Ooops, yes, Polley. Forgive me for my egregious transgression of spelling norms.
posted by LMGM at 3:29 AM on May 20, 2013

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