Five Favorite Films with Sarah Polley

The director of Stories We Tell also chats about her new movie, and the mysteries of storytelling.

Until recently, multi-talented Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley was probably best known for her early work on the TV series Road to Avonlea and later for roles in films like The Sweet Hereafter, Go, and Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. More recently, however, Polley has earned widespread acclaim for her two directorial efforts, 2007's Away from Her and last year's Take This Waltz.

Polley continues her impressive work behind the camera in Stories We Tell, a new film that, while similar in theme to her two fiction narratives, is set apart by a couple of distinctions: it's her first feature documentary, and it's a decidedly more personal project, exploring the nature of storytelling by revealing a few secrets from her own family's past. In a recent conversation with RT, Polley shared how difficult the making of the film was for her, why documentaries can never be objective, and what she learned about her family. But first, she gave us her Five Favorite Films, and here they are:


The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998; 78% Tomatometer)

The Thin Red Line is my favorite film, and that's probably the film that had the most impact on me as a human being. I feel like it really rescued me from a depression and gave me a lot of faith in people. I just thought it was beautiful. I saw it when I was nineteen or twenty. I'm a huge fan of Terrence Malick's work.




The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966; 99% Tomatometer)

The Battle of Algiers is a film I just think is the most extraordinary accomplishment and such an effective political piece, and so beautiful. It completely bewilders me every time I see it, how it was accomplished.

RT: Don't you also have a little bit of a political spirit in you?

I'm interested in politics and I have, at times, been engaged as an activist, so I feel like films that successfully deal with political issues in a way that isn't too didactic are always really impressive to me.




There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007; 91% Tomatometer)

There Will Be Blood is one that I adore. I think I saw it about four or five times in the theater. I just think Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius. I've never seen performances like that, and I've never seen something so thoughtfully and beautifully shot.




Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975; 100% Tomatometer)

I love Love and Death by Woody Allen. It's a movie that, if I'm ever sick or depressed, makes me feel better instantly.




Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994; 100% Tomatometer)

Red by Kieslowski. I love that whole trilogy, but Red, for me, was the most full film. I think it made me think about the world from new angles that I hadn't before. I think I was about seventeen when I saw it.



Next, Polley talks about the trickiness of crafting a personal documentary, and why she chose to tell the story in such an inventive way.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Very Sanguine. And I agree, these films are all terrific, a rich collection. Malick also tends to cure my blues (yes, even "To the Wonder"). This girl knows fine film, and makes some as well.

May 10 - 01:27 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

There Will Be Blood is one of my favorites as well. Funny, I think this is the first time I've seen it on a favorite film list on RT.

I need to see Red. I saw Blue, and liked it. There is also White I need to check out.

May 10 - 02:08 PM

Shannon Skanes

Shannon Skanes

Red was the best of the trilogy, great choice.

May 10 - 02:41 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I thought "Red" was the best one out of the trilogy too even though I barely remember it!

May 10 - 02:59 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I thought "Red" was the best one out of the trilogy too even though I barely remember it!

May 10 - 02:59 PM

Dan Calhoun

Dan Calhoun

Very nice to see a Red shout out!

May 10 - 04:39 PM

creox

Creox X

Battle of Algiers is a great movie and experience. Captures the look and feel of a documentary so well. Wonderful choices all.

May 10 - 07:20 PM

billfaces

h h

Very nice list!

May 10 - 08:47 PM

Bradley Timm

Bradley Timm

I still haven't seen Thin Red Line which is crazy. There Will Be Blood is so good that it unnerves me even thinking about watching it, but in a good way.

May 10 - 09:34 PM

Jerad Donley

Jerad Donley

The thin red line is one of the best war movies ever made, I was in udder shock to see that Saving Private Ryan is more acclaimed. Especially during the award season.

May 10 - 10:22 PM

Joey Hirsch

Joey Hirsch

If you were in udder shock, you might need to be milked more often.

May 12 - 03:43 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

10/10.

May 12 - 04:43 PM

Reza T.

Reza Trikurnia

lovely list
red and The Battle of Algiers was my favorite
loved her movies...
The Sweet Hereafter (actress)and take this waltz (director)
i need to see away from her and Stories We Tell.
and Love and Death too.

May 10 - 11:46 PM

Ken Kaplan

Ken Kaplan

An amazingly talented human being of incredible sensitivity. Red and the Battle of Algiers? Awesome.

May 11 - 05:22 AM

Richard Crawford

Richard Crawford

I love Sarah's movies. Battle of Algiers yes, love and death yes, the others NO.

May 11 - 10:52 AM

David Moore

David Moore

Im in love.

May 11 - 12:37 PM

Dan Delago

Dan Delago

Interesting choices. I'd like to see Sarah Polley tackle a war epic with a tragic love story. Loved, 'Take This Waltz' Sarah. You rock as a director.

May 11 - 02:44 PM

Todd Beaton

Todd Beaton

Wow people do watch that crap and enjoy it.

May 11 - 03:06 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

Well, what's your favorite movie? Big Booty Bitches Volume 1?

May 11 - 03:24 PM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

I just want to say that that was one of the best comments I have ever seen.

May 11 - 06:25 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

A pleasure to see I have amused Patrick Bateman!

May 11 - 11:41 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

Well, what's your favorite movie? Big Booty Bitches Volume 1?

May 11 - 03:24 PM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

I just want to say that that was one of the best comments I have ever seen.

May 11 - 06:25 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

A pleasure to see I have amused Patrick Bateman!

May 11 - 11:41 PM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

Beautiful list. I have yet to see any of the Three Colours films, but I look forward to seeing them. There Will Be blood is my favorite off of this list and is my third favorite film ever.

May 11 - 06:24 PM

Tory Lee

Tory Lee

I love every Paul Thomas Anderson film, and There Will Be Blood is likely his greatest, but for some reason my personal favorite is Magnolia, and Magnolia happens to be my number 3 as well.

May 12 - 07:57 AM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

I just want to say that that was one of the best comments I have ever seen.

May 11 - 06:25 PM

David Tanny

Big Fat Jewish Guy

A pleasure to see I have amused Patrick Bateman!

May 11 - 11:41 PM

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