If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing... we may only go in circles....”

-– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Sarah Polley

2013 National Arts Centre Award

Director, screenwriter and actress Sarah Polley is at the forefront of Canadian filmmaking today. Her latest film, Stories We Tell, a feature length documentary about her family history, premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, then screened to unanimous acclaim at the Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada and hailed by Maclean’s film critic Brian D. Johnson as “a brilliant film: an enthralling, exquisitely layered masterpiece of memoir that unravels an extraordinary world of family secrets,” Stories We Tell won the 2012 Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA)’s Rogers Best Canadian Film Award and Allan King Documentary Award, and took the prize for Best Feature Length Documentary at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards in March 2013.

Born in Toronto in 1979, Ms. Polley made her feature film writing and directing debut in 2006 with Away From Her, based on a short story by Alice Munro and starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent (GGPAA 2004). The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the 2008 Genie Award for Best Direction (first woman to receive this award) and Claude Jutra Award for outstanding achievement by a first-time feature film director, the Directors Guild of Canada award for Best Feature Film, and the TFCA’s Best Canadian Film Award.

Her second feature, Take This Waltz—for which she also wrote the screenplay, inspired by a song by Leonard Cohen (GGPAA 1993)—premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. She has also made five short films. She is currently writing short fiction and working on a script for a new film based on Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace.

Ms. Polley’s acting credits are equally impressive: she has appeared in over 30 films, including Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, The Hanging Garden, Guinevere, Go, The Weight of Water, My Life Without Me (Genie Award, Best Actress), Don’t Come Knocking, Mr. Nobody, and Splice.

Sarah Polley’s awards and honours also include the ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence (2006), a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame (2010), and an honorary doctorate from Trent University.