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    The Arbor

    Arbor |

    Director: Clio Barnard

    Country: UK

    Year: 2010

    Length: 94'

    Language: In English

    Introduction by Laurence Boyce.

    THE ARBOR is an utterly astounding documentary that follows the life of UK playwright Andrea Dunbar and her troubled relationship with her daughter Lorraine.

    Hailing from Bradford in the North of England, Andrea Dunbar was responsible for some of the most iconic British plays of the 80’s. Works such as “Rita, Sue and Bob Too” (also made into a popu- lar British feature) were raw and uncompromising portrayals of working class life based on Dunbar’s experiences of the Buttershaw Estate, an area in Bradford notorious for crime and drug use. Dunbar died tragically at the age of 29 when her daughter Lorraine was just ten years old. The film catches up with Lorraine in the present day, also at 29. She’s estranged from much of her family and serving a sentence for manslaughter for the death of her son. Whilst in prison and undergoing rehab, Lorraine is re-introduced to her mother’s plays and private let- ters and reflects on the parallels between their lives.

    Director Clio Barnard takes years of audio inter- views with Lorraine Dunbar and other family and friends then lets actors lip-synch to the voices of the interviewees alongside re-staging key scenes from Dunbar’s plays. Whilst it would seem tricksy this technique is actually utterly compelling with the resultant effect giving the film a vitality and energy and tells a story that is both tragic and moving.

    This is a sometimes uncomfortable yet utterly com- pelling documentary that marks Clio Barnard as an awesome talent in both British and Documentary cinema. 

    Many thanks to British Council.