Sarah Polley made a film by a new set of rules to fight sexism on set

When Sarah Polley was approached about turning Miriam Toews’ novel “Women Talking” into a film, she wasn’t seeking for a project to direct. Since the publication of “Stories We Tell,” a very personal documentary about Polley’s late mother, in 2012, the Canadian director has spent most of the last decade focusing on parenting her three children, who are now 10, 8, and 4.

Polley chose not to direct “Alias Grace,” a limited series based on Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel of the same name, because “I didn’t think I could manage a picture with kids the age mine were and be a present parent,” she said.

But producers Dede Gardner and Frances McDormand, who were looking for a writer-director for “Women Talking,” presented an appealing offer: “‘Let’s just rewrite the rules,” Polley recalled them saying. “‘Men have written these rules in the film industry and created absurd expectations of hours that are not conducive to families.’ I realized they were willing to break a model and build a new one to allow me to come back, and that was a really big deal.”

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