This debut feature from director Clio Barnard is based on the life and autobiographical writings of Yorkshire playwright Andrea Dunbar, whose work was produced at London’s prestigious Royal Court theatre, but who died of a brain hemorrhage at age 29 in 1990. Dunbar is best known to American audiences as the screenwriter of Rita, Sue And Bob Too – the 1987 movie that took a darkly comedic approach to her hardscrabble life.
Instead of making a conventional documentary, director Barnard has crafted a truly unique work that transcends genre and defies categorisation. Following two years conducting audio interviews with Dunbar’s family, friends and neighbours, Barnard filmed actors lip-synching the interviews, flawlessly interpreting every breath, tick and nuance. Amongst the interviewees are Dunbar’s daughters Lorraine (VIRK), Lisa (BOTTOMLEY) and son Andrew (McNULTY).
The film focuses in particular on the playwright’s troubled relationship with her daughter Lorraine, who was just 10 when her mother died, and on the drug-infested, white racist Yorkshire slum that bred a cycle of abuse in a benighted three-generation family of addicts.
Having enjoyed huge success at film festivals, The Arbor received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film won the Guardian Film First Award 2010 and Barnard won the the Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Director at the 2010 British Independent Film Awards, as well as London Film Festival 2011 awards for Best Newcomer (Director) and the Sutherland Award for Most Original Debut Feature. Numerous other award nominations include Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer (BAFTA Awards 2011), Best Actress and Most Promising Newcomer for MANJINDER VIRK (British Independent Film Awards 2010), Best British Supporting Actress of the Year for CHRISTINE BOTTOMLEY and Best British Film Of The Year (London Critics’ Circle Film Awards, 2011).
The Arbor is being screened at New York’s Film Forum from April 27 through May 10.
There will be a Q&A with MANJINDER VIRK and director Clio Barnard at 8pm on Friday, May 6.
Visit the Film Forum website for more info and to read a host of excellent reviews.
The film is also set to open in Los Angeles at the Sunset 5 and The Playhouse in Pasadena on May 13th.
More dates to follow soon.
Check out the trailer below and be sure to catch this brilliant film on the big screen.