Sarah Polley has won her first Academy Award.
The Canadian filmmaker, who hails from Toronto, Ont., was awarded the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar Sunday night for her movie, Women Talking.
As she accepted her award, she joked that she was grateful to the Academy for not being offended by the words “women” and “talking” together.
“First of all, I just want to thank The Academy for not being mortally offended by the words ‘women’ and ‘talking’ put so close together like that. Cheers,” she said.
She also gave mention to fellow Canadian, Miriam Toews, who wrote the 2018 novel of the same name, which inspired the film.
“Miriam Toews wrote an essential novel about a radical democracy in which people who don’t agree on every single issue managed to sit together in a room and carve out a way forward together free of violence. They do so not just by talking but also by listening,” she added.
Polley’s feature film directorial debut Away From Her was also nominated in this category in 2008, but she lost out to Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country For Old Men.
Based on a true story, Women Talking explores a remote religious colony where the male elders use a series of excuses to explain away years of drugged sexual assaults on the group’s women and girls, leaving many pregnant or dead.
When the men responsible for the assaults are caught and put in custody, the women must decide whether to stay within the community or leave.
The story mirrors similar events that took place in a Manitoba Mennonite Colony in Bolivia.
“We felt like we were part of a movement, not a movie,” Polley said in an interview last year after the world premiere of Women Talking.
“There’s something essential that we feel is a conversation that should be part of our world, and we want to be part of it with every part of our being.”
In the male-dominated film industry, Polley said she was grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented women, but noted that people of all genders helped bring the film’s conversation to the big screen.
“Everyone on the cast and crew came to this in such a generous spirit,” she said. “It wasn’t just the women on set who wanted to bring those experiences of abuse and of feeling powerless, and of moving through it and a building a better life and hopefully a better world.”
Polley, who got her start as a child actor and rose to become an acclaimed writer and director, was competing against films Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Living, Top Gun: Maverick and All Quiet on the Western Front.
Polley was also up for the Oscar for Best Picture for the same film.
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