Sarah Polley at the Telluride Film Festival for the world premiere of women talking, her last film as a director, recognized how lucky she was as an actress to have worked with so many filmmakers. She was told that she was “fierce” when they saw that she wanted to work behind the camera.
women talking, Based on Miriam Toew’s celebrated novel about a group of Mennonite women who have to deal with sexual assaults by men who fuel their desires, it is a powerful exploration of the female imagination.
“This movie started with three women talking a lot,” said Polley. She was referring to Dede Gardner as producer through Plan B Entertainment, Frances McDormand as cast member and producer through Hear/Say Productions, and Polley herself.
Polley cited three female directors she had worked with who helped pave her way as a director: Audrey Wells in her 1999 feature Geneva; Kathryn Bigelow, for whom Polley appeared in the director’s film the weight of the water in 2000; and the films of director Isabel Coixet My life without me in 2003 and The Secret Life of Words in 2005.
“What happened with that generation of female filmmakers is that when they saw someone coming who was starting to show some interest (in directing), those women grabbed me and said, ‘You’re doing it,’ and here’s how fierce they are. it’s going to have to be about that! So there was mentorship and I had those role models,” Polley said, speaking in a conversation onstage at the Telluride Film Festival. Frances McDormand presented him with the festival’s Silver Medallion award.
Polley also credited director Atom Egoyan, who directed her in several films, including the sweet beyond, and served as executive producer on Polley’s first feature directorial film, Away from her.
She said that Egoyan “invested an enormous amount of time in me when I started making my own short films.”
Polley also noted that when she’s “really lost,” Egoyan “is still my 911 call.”
However, Polley confessed that it took him a long time to overcome any fears he had in the business and admitted that working as a child actor “wasn’t the most positive experience”.
He added: “There were exceptions to the rule, there always are…but overall, it wasn’t a great experience and, in some cases, quite traumatic.”
Those experiences led her to have a “kind of allergic reaction to success” and that if something went right for her, “it would bring me back to the experience of being a child actress and other people involved in what I was doing before.” She was ready for it. It took me a long, long time to realize how much I loved doing this and more or less not letting that habitual fear or loathing dictate the choices I’ve made in my life. I think it was a relatively recent experience of realizing the incredible luck of being able to tell stories.”
With that, Polley introduced his dynamic women talking cast, which included McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jesse Buckley, Liv McNeil, Kate Hallett, Michelle McLeod, Sheila McCarthy, and Judith Ivey.
Ben Whishaw, the film’s only key male actor, was unable to travel to the Colorado Rockies for the screening.
women talking will be released via United Artists beginning December 2, following a series of festival appearances throughout the fall.