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(l-r.) Actors Rooney Mara, Judith Ivey, Claire Foy and director Sarah Polley on the set of their film WOMEN TALKING An Orion Pictures Release Photo credit: Michael Gibson © 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Adapting Stories for the Screen: Sarah Polley’s Women Talking

Dec 16, 2022 — Sep 17, 2023

Location: Behind The Screen Gallery

Sarah Polley’s film Women Talking is set in an isolated religious community where the men have committed rape and other acts of violence against the women. While the men are temporarily away, a group of women meet in a hayloft over the course of several days to deliberate whether they should leave the colony or stay and fight back. Polley directed and wrote the screenplay for the film, which was adapted from Miriam Toews’s acclaimed novel of the same name. Polley was drawn to the story’s complex themes of faith, forgiveness, and power, and its depiction of the messy but ultimately affirming process of achieving consensus in a group holding widely divergent perspectives. While Polley’s script largely hews to the novel, it broadens the action beyond the hayloft to other settings in the community, using the stark landscape and rustic homes to help convey the story’s emotional tone. 

The material on view provides a glimpse into the process of bringing the story to the screen: from Toews’s book to Polley’s working script, replete with visual references; to storyboard drawings that visualize the action; to a camera plan plotting the filming of a scene.