Polley documentary 'Stories We Tell' ramps up promotional machine for Oscar | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

Polley documentary 'Stories We Tell' ramps up promotional machine for Oscar

This undated publicity photo released by courtesy of Roadside Attractions shows a scene from the film, "Stories We Tell," directed by Sarah Polley. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Roadside Attractions, Ken Woroner

TORONTO - Sarah Polley's intimate family tale "Stories We Tell" was supposed to be the little-seen documentary the actress-turned-director made between larger dramatic features.

Instead, it's become a serious Oscar contender and widely acclaimed documentary debut, garnering plenty of attention south of the border, including an award from the New York Film Critics Circle for best non-fiction film.

Now, she and producer Anita Lee are gearing up for an awards circuit they hope will culminate with a golden statue at the Academy Awards.

"It's really, really exciting," Lee says of recently making the short list for a best documentary Oscar nomination, alongside 14 other films.

"It's so incredibly awesome."

Lee says Polley "is absolutely thrilled" with the surprise acclaim for her intensely personal film, which explores a long-held family secret about her true parentage.

They learned of making the Oscar short list Tuesday, the same day they were handed the best non-fiction prize by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Documentary branch members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will now choose five nominees from a pool of 15.

Lee says it's an honour just to make the short list, but she admits that she and Polley are ready to promote "Stories We Tell" to academy voters to boost their chances of snagging a nomination.

That means hosting key screenings in Los Angeles and New York, and making sure they attend events like the International Documentary Association's IDA Awards on Friday.

Lee says she's heading to L.A. on Thursday for the bash, where "Stories We Tell" will compete for the best feature award against "The Act of Killing," "Blackfish," "Let the Fire Burn" and "The Square."

She notes that events like this can boost the chances of scoring a coveted Oscar nomination, which would be Polley's second after earning an adapted screenwriting nod for 2006's "Away From Her."

"I really am learning that it's not just about the merit of the film, it is very strategic and political and it involves marketing and a very big Oscar machinery that exists in the U.S. industry," says Lee, a producer for the National Film Board based in Toronto

"And so I feel like it's a lottery but the odds are not bad so we're hopeful."

Either she or Polley will be on hand to accept the New York Film Critics Circle prize on Jan. 6, says Lee.

"Stories We Tell" is also one of 10 films vying for a best documentary picture prize at the Satellite Awards, to be handed out March 9 by the International Press Academy in Los Angeles.

Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 16. The 86th Academy Awards ceremony is March 2.

Lee says that strategizing for hoped-for Oscar glory actually goes back more than a year, when the film's U.S. distributor decided to delay the release date to early 2013 instead of fall 2012, when the movie came out in Canada.

"They really felt for a good Oscar run that it would actually be best for the film to do a full theatrical year and qualify for the Oscars the following year (2014)," she says of the film, which nabbed a $100,000 prize from the Toronto Film Critics Association in January of this year.

"It would allow longer time for the film to actually garner an audience, and also critical attention."

The last few months have been busy with screenings in New York and L.A., "specifically for this short list," she says.

"At the end of the day, it does come down to membership voting. Also, being I think a small film from Canada we need all the support that we can (get) in terms of people actually seeing the film."

So far, all that planning seems to be working.

"We're very happy with how it's all unfolded," says Lee.

"When Sarah and I embarked on the film I don't necessarily think we were thinking about a film that would have a very large audience.

"We were really making such a personal film for Sarah that we wanted to make something that was as authentic and, I think, as true as possible.... We always saw it as the small documentary. For her, it was the small documentary she was doing between her dramatic films and so it's been a real surprise that the small documentary is what's sort of become the big film."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

  • Popular vernon News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile