The Film

Can our memories mislead us? Does the mind unconsciously reframe the truth to make it palatable?

In The TALE, Jennifer Fox (Laura Dern) faces a host of life-altering questions after a short story from her middle school days forces her to re-examine her first sexual relationship and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.

An accomplished documentarian working in New York, Jennifer is completing her latest project, about the lives of women around the world. She receives a series of phone calls from her mother, Nettie (Ellen Burstyn), who has found a short story Jennifer wrote at the age of 13 for school. In it, she describes various encounters with her riding instructor Mrs. G (Elizabeth Debicki) and her running coach Bill (Jason Ritter) while away at summer camp. Nettie is unnerved by the implications of her daughter’s writing, but Jennifer is nonplussed. She has always looked back with fondness on the time she spent with the two charismatic adults.

In the film THE TALE, Mr. G tells Jenny there are “no bad horses, only bad riders.”

“…The more she learns, the more her memories shift and the more questions she unearths.”

Egged on by Nettie and encouraged by her supportive fiancé (Common), Jennifer yearns to know more and sets out on a journey to find the real people 30 years later – the children, now adults, who also attended the camp back then—and eventually the coaches themselves. But the more she learns, the more her memories shift and the more questions she unearths. As her frustration mounts, she finds herself turning inward to get to the truth, imagining conversations with her 13-year-old-self (Isabelle Nélisse) and even Mrs. G and Bill in an effort to understand how and why events occurred so long ago.

An unforgettable meditation on elusive nature of memory, THE TALE is the first narrative feature from Jennifer Fox, whose documentary films have earned international acclaim for their groundbreaking artistry and unflinching honesty. Based on Fox’s own life story, THE TALE sees the filmmaker bravely pushing forward the boundaries of conventional storytelling, creating a dialogue between past and present to illustrate the interplay between memory and trauma.

THE TALE stars Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Isabelle Nélisse (Mama), Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager), Jason Ritter (Kevin (Probably) Saves the World), Frances Conroy (American Horror Story, Six Feet Under), John Heard (The Sopranos), with Academy Award® winner Common (Selma) and Academy Award® winner Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream). The film is produced by Jennifer Fox, Oren Moverman, Laura Rister, Mynette Louie, Simone Pero, Lawrence Inglee, Sol Bondy, Regina K. Scully, Lynda Weinman And Reka Posta.

THE TALE is a production of Gamechanger Films, A Luminous Mind Production, Untitled Entertainment, Blackbird, One Two Films, and Fork Films. In Co-Production with ZDF in Collaboration with Arte and Supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, Wendy Ettinger, Abigail E. Disney, Robert & Penny Fox, Jayme Lemons, Amy Rodrigue, Ali Jazayeri, Jason Van Eman, David Van Eman, Ross Marroso and Ben McConley are executive producers.

Additional funding and support for THE TALE’s outreach campaign has been provided by Artemis Rising Foundation, Heavin-Weinman Family Trust, The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, Pritzker Foundation, and the Like a River Fund.

Honors & Nominations


Sign Up

Get updates about THE TALE and what you can do to change the conversation.

* indicates required
By submitting this form, you subscribe to receive email updates about THE TALE including information about hosting a screening. When you subscribe, you accept our Privacy Policy. You may opt out of receiving email updates at any time by using the unsubscribe link in the emails.