The 2017 O Canada Blogathon is an event devoted to Canadian actors and films, hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. For a list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.
It's been a long time since I saw The Sweet Hereafter, but I remember when it came out, what a big deal people made over this Canadian drama. I remember liking the movie, though it's not the kind you wanna watch over and over. It's pretty heavy.
One aspect of the film that lingers in the memory, however, is the performance of former child star and Canadian TV actress Sarah Polley. The Toronto native had bounced back and forth between the small and big screens, at home and abroad (perhaps you saw her at age four in Terry Gillam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) before Hereafter made her famous.
|Polley in The Sweet Hereafter|
I'm here to talk about her second career as a writer-director. It began in 1999, two years after the release of Hereafter, with two short films. I couldn't find Don't Think Twice anywhere online, but the other, The Best Day of My Life, is available on YouTube. A tale of teen angst and unrequited love, it was part of the On the Fly Festival, a showcase for films shot in a day, edited in a day, and screened in a day.
Given these time restrictions, Polley did a good job. There are some nice visual compositions, and she even changes from black & white to color at a key moment in the story.
|Polley on the set of Away From Her|
In a 2010 Indiewire interview, Polley talked about what drew her to making movies:
Throughout most of my acting career, I had zero interest in filmmaking. I always wanted to write, though, and felt an urgent need to express myself more literally than I could as an actor. About eight years ago, I decided on a whim to make a short film and discovered that I knew almost nothing about the process of actually putting a film together, and that I had never been so challenged or rewarded by anything in my life. I knew then that I never wanted to stop.Another short and a TV gig followed, and then, in 2006, Polley struck gold when she adapted Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" into the feature film Away From Her. It won seven Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture, Best Achievement in Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay; two Toronto Film Critics Association awards; the Writers Guild of Canada award for feature film; three Directors Guild of Canada awards, numerous international print and online accolades, and the Golden Globe for Julie Christie's lead performance.
|Polley on the set of Stories We Tell|
Polley's loyalty to Canadian cinema is such that at the height of her fame as an actress, she turned down the role that went to Kate Hudson in Almost Famous to make a Canadian film instead. A quote from a 2008 interview with MovieMaker sums up her feelings on the matter:
I think there is more creative freedom for filmmakers [in Canada]. That affects me as an actor, too. When I sign on to a film, I'm signing on to a filmmaker's vision of the film, not the studio's vision or anybody else's. I just want to know that it's going to be the filmmaker's film that I'm making. Of course, as a filmmaker, I feel like, in Canada, it's a given that a first-time filmmaker always has final cut. Why would I choose to work anywhere else?----------------------
Other films directed by Sarah Polley:
Take This Waltz
Stories We Tell