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AWAY FROM HER

About The Production
Sarah Polley had just completed work on Hal Hartley's NO SUCH THING in Iceland when she read Alice Munro's short story, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” the source material for her first feature film, AWAY FROM HER. "I was so unbelievably moved by the story,” she recalls. "I had just finished working with Julie Christie, and as I read, I kept seeing Julie's face in the character of Fiona. I'm certainly not one of those people who reflexively think about adapting stories – I just want to leave the things I love alone. But this fascinated me. I read the story and I saw the film.” 

Known to most American audiences for her role as Nicole, the crippled, secretive daughter in Atom Egoyan's THE SWEET HEREAFTER, Polley has been acting since age six. In the last several years, she has also developed her skills as a filmmaker, having written and directed three short films, Don't Think Twice, The Best Day of My Life and I Shout Love. For two years, Polley couldn't stop thinking about Munro's story, and she finally asked producer Daniel Iron, who produced Don't Think Twice, to inquire about the film rights. "I threw myself into writing. But it's daunting taking on the work of someone you respect so much,” admits Polley. "Alice Munro is one of my favorite writers because she looks right through things. The characters are all so flawed – so lovable in certain moments and so detestable in others. The adaptation didn't feel like a huge process because the film was embedded in that story.” 

In addition to Iron, Polley worked alongside producers Jennifer Weiss (who produced Polley's Genie-award winning short, I Shout Love) and Simone Urdl, partners in the production company, The Film Farm. Renowned director Atom Egoyan served as executive producer. Having known and worked with Polley for years, Iron never doubted her ability to direct a feature. "I know how fiercely intelligent and diligent she is,” he says. 

"She's been on sets since she was young and knows the craft better than any first time director. She shot-listed her first draft of the script.”

Egoyan agreed with Iron's assessment. "I was aware, on THE SWEET HEREAFTER, that Sarah was watching everything very closely,” he says. "It's a natural progression. She has alarming maturity that comes through in the script.” Indeed, Polley's understanding of the vagaries of a fifty-year marriage is all the more remarkable given the fact that she is twenty-seven years old and only a few years into her own marriage. Adds Egoyan, "There is an austerity, clarity and a dramatic through-line to her writing. It's respectful of the source material and yet quite confidently able to expand on it as well. AWAY FROM HER does what cinema is able to do remarkably well, which is to take us, just through the human face, to places we don't expect to travel.”

Julie Christie, who plays Fiona, agrees whole-heartedly, "I've read a lot of stories and a lot of film scripts made from stories and very rarely do they catch the central essence of the thing with such delicacy as Sarah has done.” 

Weiss believes the success of the adaptation is the result of a perfect match of artistic sensibilities. "If you watch Sarah's earlier films, you see she fits the Alice Munro style – there's a subtlety and a simplicity at work. She knows how to work with actors to bring out the nuance in the same way that Alice Munro works with character.” 

While Munro was not involved in the adaptation, she was pleased with the result, and left Polley a flattering voicemail message on December 23, 2005, a feather in the cap of the first-time feature director. 

AWAY FROM HER is a love story about memory and devotion. The Andersson's have remained committed to each other for fifty years, but now their marital tranquility is disrupted by Fiona's failing memory at the hands of Alzheimer's Disease. While Grant<

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