Entertainment Magazine

Dawn of the Dead

The Cast: Sarah Polley

An actress of extraordinary subtlety and range, SARAH POLLEY (Ana) made a spectacular transition from child to adult star with her critically acclaimed performance in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, winner of the 1997 Grand Prix at Cannes.

Since then she has amassed a growing portfolio of challenging roles, all of which have drawn enthusiastic notice. In addition to her work in Dawn of the Dead, Polley has recently written and directed an episode for the Shaftesbury Films and Original Pictures’ drama series The Shields Stories, based on the works of renowned Canadian writer, Carol Shields.

The episode, entitled “The Harp,” follows the story of a young woman who was passing by on the street below as a harp hurtles inexplicably through space and lands on her leg, the other of which is already broken. Polley’s episode will air on the W Network in Canada on April 6 th.

Polley was last seen in My Life Without Me for El Deseo Productions, starring alongside Mark Ruffalo. Directed by Isabel Coixet, Polley plays Ann, a young woman who conceals the fact of her terminal cancer to live her life with a passion she never had before.

The film premiered at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival in February last year and is distributed domestically by Sony Pictures Classics. The film has been awarded the “Best Canadian Feature Award” from the Atlantic Film Festival. My Life Without Me has also met critical acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival and Vancouver Film Festival and was also featured at the London Film Festival in November 2003.

Her additional upcoming films include the psychological thriller The I Inside for director Roland Suso. Based on Michael Cooney’s play Point of Death, the film also stars Ryan Phillippe, Piper Perabo and Stephen Rea, and follows the life of Simon Cable (Phillippe) who awakens in the hospital with amnesia following a near-death experience.

The film will be distributed by MDP Worldwide. Polley has completed production on Luck, a Film Farm Production, which centers around Shane Bradley—a smart, good-looking, 28-year-old obsessed with his own luck and destiny. The film was directed by Peter Wellington, who wrote the part specifically for Polley, and is distributed by Odeon Films. Luck was featured at the Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto Film Festivals in 2003 and opened in theaters March 26, 2004.

Polley can also be seen starring in The Event (an independent film directed by Thom Fitzgerald and starring Parker Posey, Jane Leeves and Olympia Dukakis), which focuses on a series of unexplained deaths that occur among the gay community in New York’s Chelsea district. The film premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and had additional screenings at the 2003 Berlin, Tribeca, Toronto and Vancouver Film Festivals.

Polley has also completed production on The Law of Enclosures, with Diane Ladd for Alliance Atlantis Communications. Polley was seen starring in The Weight of Water, an adaptation of Aruta Shreve’s novel, directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The film centers on two couples on a boat trip to a Scandinavian island and also stars Elizabeth Hurley and Sean Penn.

In 1999, Polley starred with Stephen Rea in the romantic drama Guinevere. Her performance drew rave reviews at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and has since received accolades from critics nationwide. In the dark comedy Go, Polley received critical acclaim and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as an iconoclastic checkout clerk who becomes entangled in a small-time drug deal. After premiering at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, Go opened theatrically in April, 1999.

In the Spring of 1998, Polley won both the Chicago and Boston Critics Awards for her work as the pivotal character in Atom Egoyan’s Oscar®-nominated The Sweet Hereafter. Her other work includes David Cronenberg’s science fiction piece, eXistenZ; Don McKellar’s Last Night; Thom Fitzgerald’s The Hanging Garden; Clement Virgo’s The Planet of Junior Brown and Love Came Down; Jerry Ciccoritti’s Life Before This; Hal Hartley’s beauty and the beast story, No Such Thing, with Julie Christie; and The Claim for director Michael Winterbottom, opposite Wes Bentley, Nastassja Kinski and Milla Jovovich.

Polley’s film career actually began when she was four-years-old. As a child, she starred in two television series: Ramona and the Emmy Award-winning series Avonlea. She garnered a GEMINI Award when she was nine-years-old for her portrayal of a feisty cockney orphan in the Disney/CBC movie, Lantern Hill. In Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Sarah played John Neville’s stubborn little sidekick,

Sally Salt. When she was 14, she played a supporting role in Atom Egoyan’s Exotica, which received the 1994 Cannes International Critic’s Prize, and played the lead in the Stratford Festival’s stage production of Alice Through the Looking Glass. At 16, she was presented with the challenge of portraying a woman much older than herself in the feature film Joe’s So Mean to Josephine, co-starring Eric Thal.

The film was one of the surprise hits of the 1996 Sundance Film Festival and was well received by audiences and critics alike. In 1999, Polley made her directorial debut by completing a short dramatic film, Don’t Think Twice, which premiered to critical praise at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival and was accepted at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. The short is a dark comedy about an indecisive man facing a difficult decision between his lover and his duty to his family. She also competed in the “On The Fly” short film contest with her film The Best Day of My Life. Both pieces are distributed by ATOM films.

In June 2001, Polley completed shooting a longer film entitled I Shout Love, which premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

No profile of Sarah Polley would be complete without a mention of her tireless political activism. She is unequivocal about the need for widespread social change and is active in political organizing and lobby efforts in favor of arts funding and health care spending, and on behalf of the homeless. Polley is pursuing acting and directing for now, accepting roles that present her with an intellectual and artistic challenge, but remains committed to political activism.

Sarah Polley currently resides in Toronto.

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