Sarah Polley Image Credit: AP

Washington: Actor-filmmaker Sarah Polley expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate with so many female directors while attending the Telluride Film Festival for the global premiere of 'Women Talking', her most recent film as a director. They told her to be "fierce" when they saw that she wanted to work behind the camera.

According to Deadline, 'Women Talking' based on Miriam Toew's celebrated novel about a group of Mennonite women having to confront sexual assaults committed by men feeding their desires, is a powerhouse exploration of the female imagination.

"This film began with three women talking a lot," Polley said. She was talking about Frances McDormand, who was a cast member and producer through her Hear/Say Productions, Dede Gardner, who was a producer through Plan B Entertainment, and Polley.

Polley named three female directors she had collaborated with as having paved the way for her career as a director: Audrey Wells on her 1999 film Guinevere; Kathryn Bigelow, in whose 2000 film The Weight of Water Polley appeared; and Isabel Coixet on her 2003 and 2005 films My Life Without Me and The Secret Life of Words.

"What happened with that generation of female filmmakers is when they saw someone coming up who was beginning to show any interest (in directing), those women grabbed onto me and said, 'You're doing it,' and here's how fierce you're going to have to be about it! So there was mentorship, and I had those role models," Polley said, speaking in an onstage conversation at the Telluride Film Festival. She was being presented with the festival's Silver Medallion honour by Frances McDormand.

The Sweet Hereafter filmmaker Atom Egoyan, who also worked as executive producer of Polley's debut full-length directorial feature, Away from Her, received praise from Polley. She said that Egoyan "invested an enormous amount of time into me as I started to make my own short films."

Polley also noted that when she's "really at a loss," Egoyan "still is my 911 call."

However, Polley confessed that it took her a long time to overcome her fears in the business, admitting that working as a child actor "wasn't the most positive experience." She added," There were exceptions to the rule, there always are ...but overall, it wasn't a great experience, and in some cases, quite traumatic.''

Those experiences led her to have a 'kind of allergic reaction to success," and that if something went well for her, "It brought me right back to the experience of being a child actor and other people being invested in what I was doing before I was ready for that. It took a really, really long time to realize how much I loved doing this and to, sort of, not let that habitual fear or aversion dictate the choices I've made in my life. I think that was a relatively recent experience of just realizing the unbelievable luck of getting to tell stories."

The dynamic cast of Women Talking, which also comprised McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jesse Buckley, Liv McNeil, Kate Hallett, Michelle McLeod, Sheila McCarthy, and Judith Ivey, was then presented by Polley.

The movie's lone major male performer, Ben Whishaw, was unable to make it to the Colorado Rockies for the screening.

Following a succession of festival appearances throughout the autumn, Women Talking will be made available through United Artists starting on December 2.