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Stories We Tell

STORIES WE TELL is a highly original documentary that explores how we construct our own reality through stories. Sarah Polley’s family and friends weave different narratives into a complex portrait of her mother who died when Sarah was eleven.

Director: Sarah Polley
Year: 2012
Time: 108 min

 Stories We Tell
(2012) on IMDb

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Other Ways To Watch

Download Discussion Guide

Ways to Influence

Share this film. Give others the opportunity to be moved by this story that we can all relate to.

Consider doing an oral history project with friends and family about someone you were close to but who is no longer alive. See how your memories compare and contrast. See what you learn about the person. See what you learn about yourself.

Remember to be present with the people in your life, your family and your friends. Be interested in them. Ask questions. Share about yourself. And don’t forget to express your gratitude for the things they give you.

Make a time capsule that you can hide away for future family members. Include a letter that shares about your passions, fears and secrets. When they discover it, it will be a revealing and exciting window into person you are today. Everyone has a story to tell, including you.

Related Articles and Resources

Family Opens Its Diary, With Mother as Subject

Read the full New York Times review.


This playlist features 6 captivating documentaries by female filmmakers.

“Stories Are Our Way of Coping, of Creating Shape Out of Mess”

When Sarah Polley decided to make a documentary about the mother she lost at age 11, she couldn’t have imagined the extraordinary family secret she would unearth.

The acclaimed filmmaker talks to The Guardian about the painful burden that often comes with exploring the lives of loved ones – and why she thinks marriage is a ‘crazy and optimistic’ institution.


A set of six films exploring the blurry boundary between truth and lies, good intentions and plain deception.

Ken Burns on Story

A short film about the nature of stories and storytelling. It’s compelling, smart, and complex, largely because Ken Burns, one of America’s most famous and revered storytellers, discusses the reality of what documentary films are, and what they aren’t.

If documentaries are not about telling “the truth,” then what are they about?

Watch to find out.


Listen to our playlist with music from the film on Spotify.



In the days of Facebook and Realty TV, how do we define “real” anymore or, for that matter, what is “true?”

This is one of the many questions explored in Sarah Polley’s documentary. Some critics call it narcissistic and vain, while this publication recognizes the courage it took for Sarah to get behind her camera and tell her story.

A letter by Sarah Polley:

The day finally came. STORIES WE TELL would make it’s first public screening in Venice. On that day, Director Sarah Polley published a letter on The National Film Board of Canada’s blog…

Read her reasons here

The Science of Storytelling

… and Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains
.Read this fascinating article, including research and useful ways to incorporate more storytelling into your life.

Little Women

Director Sarah Polley paired up with Little Women adaptation

Find out more here.


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