Toronto’s Most Inspirational Women of 2022 – Sarah Polley

The Director | Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley stole the show at TIFF this year with the premiere of Women Talking, a stunning film based on the novel by Miriam Toews. Addressing issues including sexual violence, the patriarchy and the choice to forgive, fight or run in the face of abuse, Polley’s clear and compassionate direction and stunning screenplay turned the film into one that no one could stop talking about and earned her a Golden Globe nomination for best Screenplay of a Motion Picture. Polley also published her first book, Run Towards the Danger, in 2022, in which she shares six moving essays about memories from her childhood and life. She won the 2022 Toronto Book Award for it in November.

By Shayla Brown, actor in Women Talking

I met Sarah when I auditioned for Women Talking. A few months later, I was contacted and told that I didn’t fit the part that I auditioned for, but Sarah wrote a character specifically with me in mind. Now, we’ve become really good friends — she’s a mentor to me and she encourages me in my acting as well as pushes me to expand into writing and directing. In filming Women Talking, she created a safe space, which allowed us to be vulnerable and bring our best performances because we were surrounded by a group of people who took care of each other. It was never just about what Sarah wanted. She had a very clear vision about what she wanted, but she always listened and collaborated with her actors, which sets her apart. Sometimes I feel like the only reason I’m in a room is because I’m disabled. I can be the person they point at and say, “See? We have representation.” Sarah showed me that she saw me as an actor first, and she trusted me to go to these emotional and vulnerable places. What I find inspiring about Sarah is that she doesn’t go looking for her next project, so when she does find it, she really believes in it and puts her whole heart into it. She takes on a project because she believes it has something to say. She is pushing the bounds of storytelling and inspiring future generations of female directors, and she is the most collaborative director I’ve worked with and the most giving person I know. She is also very politically active and outspoken and has inspired me to do the same.

See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2022 here. 

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