Sarah Polley’s confessional documentary Stories We Tell has won best Canadian film from the Toronto Film Critics Association, an award that carries a prize pot of $100,000.
Polley was named winner Tuesday evening, as the TFCA presented its slate of annual awards for the best in film. Most of the winners were previously announced.
The prize pot for the TFCA’s choice for best Canadian film was boosted to $100,000 for the first time this year, making it a much more significant award for the winning director. Actor, writer and director Don McKellar presented the prize.
Polley worked with the NFB to create her documentary, inspired by a painful personal incident in which she learned the man who is her father was not her biological father.
In Stories We Tell she interviews members of her family, including her father, about her late mother and the story behind her own conception.
Polley, whose previous films include Take This Waltz and Away from Her, lost her mother at age 11, but reveals that she met her biological father by accident and that the biological connection was confirmed by a DNA test.
“Making this film was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took five years and tormented me,” she said in a blog on the NFB website about her film.
“I didn’t want to make it, and I wanted to give up many times along the way, but I also didn’t want this story to be out there in the words of someone other than the many people who lived it.”
Two runners-up — Denis Côté, director of Bestiare, and Michael Dowse, director of Goon — will each receive $5,000.
The award for best Canadian film came with a prize pot of $15,000 last year, but a donation from Rogers made it a much more lucrative prize. For less well-known directors, it can be a significant advance toward their next film.
The TFCA awarded four awards to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master including the best picture of 2012, best screenplay and best director. Michael Haneke's Amour was named best foreign film.