Clio Barnard's original documentary portrait of Andrea Dunbar won Best First Feature at the London Film Festival and was nominated for an Outstanding British Debut BAFTA.
'The Arbor' is the powerful story of playwright Dunbar’s ('Rita, Sue and Bob Too!') life. Described as 'a genius straight from the slums,' Dunbar wrote honestly and unflinchingly about her upbringing on Bradford’s notorious Buttershaw Estate. When she died at the age of 29 in 1990 her daughter Lorraine was just ten years old. Lorraine, now also at 29, is ostracised from Buttershaw and serving a sentence in prison.
Through compelling interviews with Lorraine and other members of the Dunbar family Barnard builds up a complex portrait of Dunbar. But the film’s stroke of brilliance is to have actors mouth the words of the people interviewed and to recreate Dunbar’s work on a green in the middle of the Buttershaw Estate. In doing so, Barnard blurs the line between art and life, and documentary and fiction.
★★★★ "Tough, worthy stuff" - Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
★★★★ "A remarkable film: conceptually acute, brilliantly realised, impossibly sad" - Sukhdev Sandhu, The Telegraph
★★★★ "A modernist, compassionate biopic" - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian