Sarah Polley, Playing Sensitive Interrogator And Making A Masterpiece With Stories We Tell

By Katey Rich 2013-05-15 07:50:23discussion comments
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Well, looking at interviews you did with Take This Waltz, itís interesting how you rejected people trying to make it autobiographical.
I think thatís what was so frustrating with Take This Waltz. I knew this film was coming out in a few months and I couldnít say it, because I was keeping the film secret until them. It was kind of like, ďDude, I promise you if I make something autobiographical, it would be so obvious.Ē It was so frustrating to combat that.

In the film you ask the journalist not to reveal the story personally, because you have really good reasons for your dad, but then right before the film came out, you were keeping the story secret for the sake of the audience, like Hitchcock not wanting to spoil the ending to Psycho. It was a whole different reason for keeping the story secret.
I never thought of it that way but youíre totally right. I think that what happened is I spent five years making this film and it was specifically so that I could have some control over the way the story would be told, not some journalist who had no personal connection to me and then all of a sudden, it was just going to be written about, like what was the point of the five years? Then I became really obsessive about, like no, I want the film to be the way people find out the story.

Do you feel like if you had your druthers, you would have left it like that and not done any interviews.
I think it would have been great. I just donít think it would have been a fair thing to do and I think it was precious enough to say, ďIím not doing any interviews before the film.Ē I mean, I think thatís a precious a pretty precious stance.

Youíre not Terrence Malick basically.
Exactly and I was pretty lucky people werenít a lot grumpier about that. I think I was pretty resigned to the fact that Iíd be doing interviews and itís actually kind of been a pleasure. People have really weird stories. It turns out that film journalists have the most fucked up families in the world. Some of the stories are like, holy shit. It makes this story look like the most boring story of all time. Iíve heard stories that give me nightmares at night.

Oh my God. So youíve been like a therapist.
I know... I definitely feel like, people have gotten a lot off their chest

You said for Take This Waltz, you wanted people to see themselves reflected in it and people totally did, because people went crazy about hating or loving it. Was that a direct goal for you in this as well? Itís such a specific story, but itís obviously itís universal if people are telling your their stuff.
The idea was to make not so much a film about myself and my family, as to make a film about why we tell stories and why we need to find the truth in the past and if thatís even possible. l always hoped that would resonate for people in terms of their own lives and their own family stories, but itís very hard when you look at a film you made thatís so personal to actually have any sense of what other people are going see in it. I watch it and quite honestly Iíll go, ďHow could this possibly speak to anybody?Ē

Well, how does that feel compared to your first two movies that are less personal, but itís the same thing where youíre inside something and you canít know what people are doing. Is it a similar process of getting outside of it enough to finish the movie?
Yeah, although I feel like with those films I had a better sense of what they were like. Do you know what I mean? With this film itís very hard to even know what it is when I watch it myself.
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