The Arbor (image 1)

Numerous celluloid experiments have fudged reality and fiction lately, but few are as formally inventive or socially revelatory as The Arbor.

Ronnie Scheib, Variety

Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

The Arbor 2010

Directed by Clio Barnard

Revelatory, complex and moving documentary about the legacy of British playwright Andrea Dunbar (Rita, Sue & Bob Too) whose incisive portrayals of working class life, from the time she was 15, mirrored her own.

UK In English
94 minutes DigiBeta

Director

Producer

Tracy O’Riordan

Photography

Ole Bratt Birkeland

Editors

Nick Fenton
,
Daniel Goddard

Music

Molly Nyman
,
Harry Escott

With

Manjinder Virk (Lorraine)
,
Neil Dudgeon (Steve)
,
Monica Dolan (Ann)
,
Danny Webb (Max and father)
,
Christine Bottomley (Lisa)
,
Kathryn Pogson (Pamela)
,
Natalie Gavin (Girl in The Arbor)
,
Jonathan Jaynes (David)
,
Jimi Mistry (Yousaf in The Arbor)
,
George Costigan (Jimmy ‘the Wig’)
,
Kulvinder Ghir (Rafee)

Festivals

Tribeca 2010

Elsewhere

British playwright Andrea Dunbar was 19 when her play The Arbor was staged at London’s Royal Court in 1980. Its raw, incisive portrayal of the cycles of violence and addiction on a tough Bradford housing estate was drawn directly from her own experience, brutalised and pregnant at 15. Two plays and one film (the raucous, funny Rita, Sue & Bob Too) later, she was dead, at 29. Clio Barnard’s riveting film about her legacy concentrates on the experiences of the oldest of her three children, the similarly lucid and plain-speaking Lorraine, whose conception was mirrored in the play. Illuminating the interplay of ‘reality’ and fabrication in her own work as much as in Dunbar’s, Barnard directs actors who lip-synch acutely well to the often jaw-droppingly blunt interviews she has gathered. Excerpts from the play prove its enduring, excoriating vitality, while extensive TV coverage of the young playwright and her family add a further dimension. This is an intensely moving film, as white-hot in its clarifying urgency as the work that inspired it. — BG

“One of the finds of the New Zealand International Film Festival thus far.” —Tim Wong, The Lumiere Reader