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li-polley-stories-we-tell-nfbSarah Polley has been in front of the camera since she was a little girl as the star of dozens of films like “The Sweet Hereafter, “Go” and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” Now in her first documentary she turns the camera on herself and her family.

“Stories We Tell” is a frank look at a family secret. For years Sarah’s family wondered why she didn’t bare much resemblance to her father, actor Michael Polley. It was the source of family jokes and conjecture, but it wasn’t until a Canadian journalist contacted Polley claiming to have the story of Polley’s lineage and real father that she began to investigate in detail. The result is a stunning film packed with humor, sadness and stark truth and family secrets.

Polley’s portrait of her mother, actress Diane Polley who passed away when Sarah was just eleven years old, father and family is affectionate and unexpected. Her father, for instance, reacts to the news that his late wife had an affair that resulted in Sarah’s birth not with anger, but with the advice for her and her siblings not to blame their mother for straying outside of the marriage.

“Stories We Tell” shuns the exploitive approach of reality television—imagine what Mauray Povich might have done with this story—to explore the consequences of a long ago indiscretion. What could have been a self-indulgent home movie is, instead, a riveting look into the dynamics of a group of individuals bound together by birth and circumstance.

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