- Sarah Polley (b. Jan. 8, 1979) is a Canadian filmmaker and former actress.
- She’s a former child actor.
- In 2023, she was snubbed – along with every other woman director – by the 95th Academy Awards.
When the 95th Academy Awards rolled out its nominations on Tuesday (Jan. 24), the Best Picture category included some expected nominees (The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin), some big-budget surprises (Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water), and some indie darlings (Triangle of Sadness, Tár). One of the pleasant surprises was Women Talking, Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Towes’ novel of the same name. Sadly, what wasn’t so surprising is that Sarah didn’t get a Best Director nomination.
Though five films were nominated for Best Picture, only five films were allowed Best Director nods, resulting in six men getting nominated: Steven Spielberg (The Fablemans), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin), Todd Field (Tár), Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert (Everything Everywhere All at Once). Polley did get a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. As Indiewire’s Kate Erbland pointed out, “other female directors who made some of the year’s most lauded films … were left out on nomination morning include The Woman King helmer Gina Prince-Bythewood, first-time feature filmmaker Charlotte Wells (whose Aftersun has proven to be a favorite amongst critic groups and other smaller bodies), She Said director Maria Schrader, and Till helmer Chinonye Chukwu.”
The Oscars nominating only men this year breaks the Academy’s streak. In 2022, Jane Campion won the Best Director award for The Power of the Dog. It marked the first time in the Oscars’ 94-year history that women claimed the Best Director award back-to-back years, with Chloé Zhao taking the award in 2021 for Nomadland. Only seven women have been nominated for a total of eight times, per PEOPLE, and Sarah is unable to add her name to that small club.
Ahead of the Mar. 13 ceremony, here’s what you need to know about Sarah.
Sarah Polley Is A Canadian Filmmaker.
Sarah Polley, born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Sarah began her career in front of the camera. A Monty Python superfan, she convinced her parents to let her audition for a film directed by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. She landed the role of Sally Salt in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. At that point, she had already scored a handful of movie and television roles.
One of her biggest television roles was the lead in Ramona, the 1988 adaptation of the Beverly Clearly books. Her other notable television work was in the 1990s when she portrayed Sara Stanley in Road to Avonlea, a period piece set in early 20th century eastern Canada.
Her film roles include 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, 2009’s Splice, 1998’s Guinevere, 1999’s Existenz, and her last film, 2010’s Trigger.
She Quietly Switched Careers In The Early 2000s
In the early 2000s, Sarah shifted from acting to writing and directing. In 2006, she made her feature film directorial debut with Away from Her, which won her the Canadian Screen Award for Best Director. She also scored her first Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. From there, she worked hard as a director, writer, and producer of short films, feature films, and television episodes. Her feature film resumé includes Tale This Waltz, the Stories We Tell documentary, and Women Talking.
The story of Women Talking “raised so many questions for me that I wanted to unpack,” she told IndieWire, “but also, this was a film I wanted in the world for my kids in terms of what it had to say about how you analyze a world that isn’t working in a productive way, how to imagine a world that might work, and how to take the lead to go and create it. That was worthy of a few months when I was otherwise occupied.”
Sarah is married to David Sandomierski. They have three kids together. She was previously married to film editor David Wharnsby.
She Had An Experience With Harvey Weinstein
In 2017, Sarah wrote an op-ed for The New York Times detailing her experiences with Harvey Weinstein. “One day, when I was 19 years old, I was in the middle of a photo shoot for a Miramax film when I was suddenly told it was time to leave. … ‘Are we done here?’ I asked. ‘No’ was the answer. ‘But Harvey wants you there now.’”
Sarah detailed an incident where Harvey hoped to develop a “very close relationship” with Sarah to help her career. “. The implication wasn’t subtle,” said Sarah. She used her op-ed to say how she had seen “women constantly pressured to exploit their sexuality and then chastised as sluts for doing so. Women in technical jobs were almost nonexistent, and when they were there, they were constantly being tested to see if they really knew what they were doing. You felt alone, in a sea of men.”
“Shortly afterward, I started writing and directing short films,” she wrote. “I had no idea, until then, how little respect I had been shown as an actor. Now there were no assistant directors trying to cajole me into sitting on their laps, no groups of men standing around to assess how I looked in a particular piece of clothing. I could decide what I felt was important to say, how to film a woman, without her sexuality being a central focus without context. In my mid-20s, I made my first feature film, Away From Her.”
She Is A Survivor
In Sarah’s 2022 memoir, Run Towards The Danger, she detailed her life on stage, on screen, and in film. The collection of autobiographical essays includes “The Woman Who Stayed Silent,” in which she describes why she didn’t come forward about being sexually assaulted by musician and former CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi. Jian was charged with four counts of sexual assault stemming from accusations from three women. The judge later ruled that Gomeshi was not guilty due to a lack of evidence to prove Ghomeshi’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“There is no other evidence to look to determine the truth. There is no tangible evidence. There is no DNA. There is no ‘smoking gun,’” the judge wrote, per The Guardian.
She Doesn’t Want You To Throw Out Your ‘Brazil’ DVD
In her memoir, Sarah detailed how Terry Gilliam created an unsafe environment on Munchausen, especially for a child actor. “I love Terry Gilliam movies,” she told IndieWire. “I refuse to think of him as a monster. I don’t think he is. I think he screwed up a lot of stuff, and he hasn’t taken responsibility for it, and that sucks. But he also had great qualities and made beautiful work. I just feel like I’m interested in having a conversation with him and hearing his perspective on what he saw. I would hope that he’d listen to mine.”
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