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Team FYC: Stories We Tell for Best Editing

In this series our contributors sound off on their favorite fringe contenders. Here's Jose Solis on "Stories We Tell" It's winning Best Documentary critics prizes but let's talk another category.

Sarah Polley’s brilliant Stories We Tell isn’t as much a “documentary” as it is a psychological thriller. As the film begins she teases you suggesting this will be a simple case of “let’s find the truth about my mother” kind of film, only to then pull the rug from under your feet and reveal that she’s not exactly interested in delivering a beautiful conclusion tied up with a pretty ribbon. Delivering more twists and turns than any other film this year, Stories We Tell owes much of its success to its byzantine editing (by Mike Munn), which takes us on what feels like an emotional roller coaster ride.

Earlier this year, I spoke to Polley who explained how and why this structure came to be:

[instead of going for a traditional linear structure] what if we’re revealing information that is from before this story starts and reveal it halfway through this story, so that it gives a whole new meaning to what we’ve seen and for me it felt like it would give the audience a sense that was similar to mine. You know you hit bottom and a trap door opens, then you hit bottom again and another trap door opens and you never really got solid ground under your feet, because the amount that you can learn about something and its context is infinite.”

The fact that she wanted audiences to share her experience the same way she had lived it is admirable and humble, the fact that she pulled it off by reminding us that memory might very well be the essence of cinema is nothing if not brilliant.

Previously on Team FYC


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Reader Comments (10)

This is actually my personal editing winner of the year (so far). Great choice!

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrJeffery

Could SWT be nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling?

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

Good call. All of the FYC posts have been fantastic.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Excellent choice! My favorite documentary of the year.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStan

It's always a shame docs never get recognition for some of the editing it pulls off. Everything from the classic Hoop Dreams to as recently as Stories We Tell and Let the Fire Burn are incredible achievements as any narrative fictional film.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I agree that the editing is integral to creating this "trap door" storyline, but it's also made possible through her approach of having everyone tell the story from their perspective and the various differences and discrepancies that emerge. I loved the film for so many reasons, but what stuck with me most was how much it made me think about the "stories we tell" and how to turn storytelling and narrative on their head, which she does so brilliantly. Really hope it makes the Academy's final cut (no pun intended) in Documentary.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarina

Polley would get my vote for Best Director this year, as well.

Nathaniel, have you finally seen this? Dying to hear your thoughts.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

This is a brilliant idea, one which I'm sad to admit hadn't even crossed my mind. Thanks for the suggestion!

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I have nothing new to add to the comments or the lovely post, but I do want to say I enthusiastically echo each and every one of the wonderful things said here. Easily one of my favourite films this year and already has a place in the Flickah movie pantheon, and should some idle millionaire ever decided to satisfy an internet stranger's whim, this movie would have head billing this year.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

Too true!

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

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