Sarah Polley's "Stories we Tell" (2012), examines the nature of narratives and truth through the seemingly truthful medium of documentary.
Australian movie critique, Margaret Pomeranz says this about the film, Her latest film is a combination of home movie and documentary, a fascinating blend of forensic search for the mother she lost to cancer when she was eleven. She interviews siblings, half siblings, her father, friends, to try to figure out this fey creature that was her mother Diana, actress, casting director, who after meeting fellow actor Michael, abandons her first marriage and the children of that union. Diana was a restless soul and despite loving Michael, craved excitement outside the confines of her marriage.
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Meaning is a dynamic process through which responders engage with texts, and involves the incorporation of understanding gained through texts into a wider context.
Truth seems to exist when a markers of authenticity is used to support the articulation of the documentarian’s viewpoint. Cinematic, aesthetic or technological elements of documentary filmmaking, that through repeated use over time, have become inherently associated with genuine, reliable, and trustworthy representations of reality in documentary form. Polley utilises these "markers of authenticity" to great extent, deliberately blurring the lines between truth and fiction, and calling attention to the medium of documentary itself. The voice over narration, manipulation of footage, confessional interviews, documentarian's on-screen presence and staged action meshes together to create a seemingly truthful account of her dead mother.
"It really wasn't the intention to trick anybody -- I never thought that it would actually fool anybody for very long."
The feeling of being unfaithful to it is a very difficult one, and just to adapt it into a screenplay does require some translations. It's hard to know where your ethical lines are, in the same way that I think making a true story or one about people you know -- just by telling a story, there has to some kind of construct around it. It's not going to be completely objective -- no matter what -- and there's a lot of ethical responsibility in terms of how you're presenting people to the outside world. Because for a lot of people, that's the only context in which they'll know these people.
This documentary would be suitable related material for both Conflicting Perspectives and History and Memory.