Fresh off film festival premieres of her new buzzed-about documentary "Stories We Tell," which earned a great response at the Toronto International Film Festival (along with a US distribution deal), Sarah Polley continues to feel the love this month.
On Friday evening, the actor/writer/director was lauded for her impressive work in 2012 by the Playback Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame, as the organization presented Polley with the Deluxe Award for Outstanding Achievement. The ceremony took place during a special gala event at CBC's Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, where other Canadian entertainment icons like Graham Greene and TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling were inducted into Playback's Hall of Fame.
The event was launched back in 2007 with the goal of celebrating Canada's entertainment talent, and in particular, the Outstanding Achievement Award is meant to honour the country's current success stories -- which made Polley an obvious choice in 2012. So far, this year has seen the release of Polley's second feature, Take This Waltz (which premiered at TIFF in 2011), her festival tour of the highly-personal "Stories We Tell," and the birth of her first child. Not too shabby, though we're guessing the Outstanding Achievement Award only applies to Polley's film work.
Asked to reflect on her busy 2012, Polley told us, "It's been mostly defined by having a baby and being at home with her, and that's been amazing. I mean, obviously I have two films that just got released, [but] my experience has mostly been about having a baby, so it's lovely that it feels like things are happening in my career without me actually having to propel the press."
And indeed, Polley has been relatively quiet about her new film, a documentary that in part chronicles her revelation that the father who raised her was not her biological father. Apart from a blog post where Polley explained her reasoning behind making the film, she's preferred to let "Stories We Tell" speak for itself. Still, Polley said of the film, "Definitely, [it] was the hardest film I've ever made, and probably the hardest film I will ever make, for a whole bunch of reasons."
In her typical fashion, Polley was humble when it came to her latest award and the response her films have received, saying, "It's a nice feeling that people are acknowledging or appreciating the work you've done in some way. I mean, I don't necessarily feel I deserve it. And there's sort of an awkwardness to it because you don't necessarily feel you deserve something like this. Getting to do what you love is reward enough."
Of course, one person who clearly disagrees with Polley's self-assessment would be her fellow Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, who directed Polley twice -- first in 1994's "Exotica," and then again three years later in "The Sweet Hereafter." Egoyan was on-hand to present the award to Polley, and raved about the actress-turned-filmmaker, saying that watching her career take off has been "unbelievably gratifying. To see the whole trajectory of her career, it's been very rewarding for me, very moving."
Egoyan said the choice to present Polley with her Playback award was an easy one, saying, "I'm happy to be able to honour an artist who is at her level. And to support her and her films, especially her last film ["Stories We Tell"]. It says a lot about our culture that we can produce something so meaningful."
And Handling, who's essentially watched Polley grow up over his years spearheading TIFF, was similarly impressed, saying of the Toronto local, "Sarah Polley has been so much a part of TIFF. She graduated from acting to being a short film director and a feature film director, and now a documentary director. She's incredibly talented."
That impressive list may not leave much left for Polley to do, but it sounds like that's OK with her. She'll next be working on adapting the work of another Canadian icon, Margaret Atwood, and her novel "Alias Grace." But don't expect that any time soon. Said Polley, "[Alias Grace] will be the next film I make, but at the moment, I'm pretty much 24/7 a mom. So I'll see how long it'll be before I'm ready to take on a full production schedule. It won't be in the next six months, that's for sure."
Syd March is an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. When he becomes infected with the disease that plagues superstar Hannah Geist, he must unravel the mystery surrounding her before he suffers the same fate.
'Stories We Tell'
Sarah Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets behind a family of storytellers. She playfully interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. She unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: a messy, intense and loving tangle of contradictions.
At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, as India proclaims independence from Great Britain, two newborn babies are switched by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. Saleem Sinai, the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman, and Shiva, the offspring of wealthy Muslims, are fated to live the destiny meant for each other.
Forced to repeat Grade 12, Claire's reputation is sliding from bad-ass to bad joke. At night, she escapes to would-be rock star Jim (aged 33), while at school, she bonds with Henry, a nerdy freshman she used to babysit. Eventually, Claire learns the difference between sex, intimacy and friendship.
Based on true events and boasting a veteran cast, Still is a heartfelt story about an 89-year-old New Brunswicker who faces jail time when the government tries to stop him from building a more suitable house for his wife, whose health is beginning to fade.
'I Declare War'
A group of friends play an innocent game of Capture the Flag in the neighbourhood woods. One afternoon, the game takes on a more serious tone and the quest for victory pushes the boundaries of friendship.
One afternoon, on a typical day at work, Adib is confronted with devastating news: His eldest daughter, Muna, has gone missing in Damascus. Now Adib, who has not been back in over 30 years, must return to Syria and deal with his secret past in order to find her.
In the 1990s, Laurence tells his girlfriend Fred that he wants to become a woman. In spite of the odds -- and in spite of each other -- they confront the prejudices of their friends, ignore the counsel of their families, and brave the phobias of the society they offend.
Komona, a 14-year-old girl, tells her unborn child the story of how she became a child soldier. A tale set in Sub-Saharan Africa, Rebelle is also a love story between two young souls caught in a violent yet beautiful and magical world.