Exclusive: TIFF to host Polley’s “Stories,” Kastner’s “Disco”

The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival will host premieres of anticipated feature docs The Stories We Tell and The Secret Disco Revolution, from Canadian directors Sarah Polley (pictured) and Jamie Kastner respectively, realscreen has learned.
July 23, 2012

The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will host premieres of anticipated feature docs The Stories We Tell and The Secret Disco Revolution, from Canadian directors Sarah Polley (pictured) and Jamie Kastner respectively, realscreen has learned.

Polley’s effort is the filmmaker’s first feature-length documentary, following her acclaimed fiction films Away from Her, which won a Genie Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; and Take This Waltz, which played to considerable praise at TIFF last year.

The 90-minute doc has been in the works for four years, with details first unveiled in 2008, when it was chosen to be one of four projects selected for the inaugural six-month-long CFC/NFB Feature Documentary Program, which launched in early 2009.

The Stories We Tell looks at storytelling and the way that people fictionalize family narratives, examining “our insatiable need, as human beings, to turn our lives into stories,” according to production notes from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), which backed the doc financially.

The film (pictured below) is produced by the NFB’s Anita Lee and exec produced by Silva Basmajian, and will be distributed in Canada in October by Toronto-headquartered Mongrel Media, which distributed Away from Her and Take This Waltz.

the stories we tell

Meanwhile, Kastner’s satirical Disco looks at the history of the oft-maligned musical genre, and questions whether the disco era was a giant party or a misunderstood culture of protest.

Realscreen first revealed details of the film in July 2011, and reported its acquisition by eOne International in February. The doc has a considerable budget behind it and a number of TV networks already attached, including Bravo! in Canada, Canal D in Quebec, Knowledge Network for British Columbia, and ZDF/ARTE for France and Germany.

It arrives at TIFF boosted by a renewed focus on the musical genre, following the deaths of disco icons Donna Summer and Robin Gibb earlier this year.

The production promises to be the most high-profile yet for Kastner (pictured below), whose previous efforts include 2010’s Recessionize! For Fun and Profit!, 2007’s Kike like Me, 2004’s Djangomania! and 2003’s Free Trade is Killing my Mother.

jamie kastner at hot docs 2012 in toronto. photo by adam benzine

Realscreen learned of the premieres for both films via a number of well-placed sources with knowledge of the projects.

Kastner and TIFF, when contacted last week, declined to comment, while the NFB referred realscreen to a spokesperson representing The Stories We Tell for theatrical distribution, who confirmed a Canadian theatrical release date of October 12 but could not confirm the film would play TIFF.

Other titles that could speculatively make the cut for the 37th annual TIFF include Canadian director Peter Mettler’s forthcoming doc The End of Time; Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s drama-doc Caesar Must Die, which has been notably quiet from the festival circuit since winning the Golden Bear in Berlin earlier this year; and Spike Lee’s forthcoming doc on the making of Michael Jackson’s album Bad, which is due for a DVD release on September 18.

A new doc from Alex Gibney could also be in contention, although the filmmaker recently told realscreen that his Fela Kuti film is still about six months from completion; and AJ Schnack’s forthcoming doc Caucus – which looks at the Republican Iowa Caucus that took place during the primary campaigns in the U.S. earlier this year – could also be in the running.

A rough cut of the latter has been shown to several industry insiders in recent months, and the film would be a timely choice for the Toronto fest, coming two months before the American presidential election in November.

TIFF will hold its opening press conference tomorrow (July 24), at which this year’s opening night movie is expected to be named, with documentary programming set to be unveiled on July 31 and a Canadian press conference following on August 8. The festival runs from September 6-16.

Last November, realscreen exclusively named five anticipated documentaries that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, including The House I Live In, The Queen of Versailles and 5 Broken Cameras – documentaries which went on to scoop the festival’s top awards.

Check out a trailer for Kastner’s The Secret Disco Revolution below:

UPDATE JULY 23, 12:30: The NFB informs that Anita Lee has replaced Sonia Hosko as the producer of The Stories We Tell.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION JULY 24: This story originally listed both Kastner and Polley’s docs as world premieres, however Polley’s will be a North American premiere. After publication, the Venice Film Festival announced that The Stories We Tell will have its official world premiere during its Venice Days program, which takes place this year from August 30-September 8.

About The Author
Justin Anderson joined Realscreen as senior staff writer in 2021, reporting and writing stories for the newsletter and magazine. During his 20-year career he’s filled a variety of roles as a writer and editor at a number of media organizations, covering news and current affairs as well as business, tech, the film and music industries and plenty in between. He’s also spent time behind the scenes in television production, having written everything from voiceover scripts for documentaries to marketing copy. He has a degree in Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).