Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell has made the short list of 15 Academy Award documentary-feature contenders out of 147 qualifying films in 2013. The National Film Board-produced film, in which the 34-year-old actress and director (Away from Her, Take This Waltz) uses re-enactments, family interviews and her father’s narrated memoir to explore a family secret about her mother, who died when Polley, a child actress, was 11.
Though Stories We Tell was released in the fall of 2012 in Canada (where it received the $100,000 best Canadian feature prize from the Toronto Film Critics Association), its U.S. distributor, Roadside Attractions, delayed its release to 2013 to make it eligible for the Oscars, which will be presented on March 2, 2014. The final five nominations in the documentary-feature category will be announced on Jan. 16.
On Tuesday, the film won the New York Film Critics Circle Award as best documentary of 2013. Stories We Tell has received generally high marks from reviewers, with a 95-per-cent “fresh” rating on the critical aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, and 90 out of 100 on Metacritic.
The other films on the short list are The Act of Killing; The Armstrong Lie; Blackfish; The Crash Reel; Cutie and the Boxer; Dirty Wars; First Cousin Once Removed; God Loves Uganda; Life According to Sam; Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer; The Square; Tim’s Vermeer; 20 Feet from Stardom and Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.