Two-time Oscar-winning producer Dede Gardner (12 Years a Slave and Moonlight) always believed that Miriam Toews' novel, Women Talking, would work on the big screen. Both the novel and the film, adapted by writer-director Sarah Polley, center on a group of Mennonite women who meet in secret to discuss the best way to respond to the violence inflicted upon them by the men of their community.
"I never questioned that it could be cinematic," Gardner said during an Academy-hosted Q&A for the film. After meeting with fellow producer Frances McDormand (herself an Oscar-winning producer for Nomadland in addition to being a three-time Oscar-winning actress), "I think we just thought, let's shoot for the moon and try. I didn't see why not to try. I figured, like, if 12 Angry Men can do it, so can eight women."
Women Talking received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and during Sunday's 95th Oscars, Polley took home the Oscar for the latter. Onstage, she said she was accepting the award on behalf of her entire cast and crew — a sentiment she'd also expressed during the panel conversation in discussing how the film became a collective vision.
"I had such amazing input at every stage, and so many people who brought all of themselves and their lived experience to the table," Polley said. "When I see the film, I'm able to see all of these little tendrils of different people's thoughts and dreams in the film, so you're able to be proud of it in a different way than if it was just your voice — and that's been thrilling."