The Arbor is a documentary about the writer of Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Andrea Dunbar, who died aged 29 in 1990. Directed by Clio Barnard and produced by Tracy O’Riordan, the production is based around audio interviews conducted with the family members of Dunbar which include her two daughters who have widely differing views of their mother’s effect on their lives.
Barnard says the film “was originally meant to be for TV. When the UK Film Council got involved, they insisted it had a theatrical release. All the great reviews helped, too. In retrospect, a big part of it was the subject matter: it’s about inter-generational neglect, and how it’s important to understand it. I realise now there was a need for this sort of story.”
Dunbar was raised on the Buttershaw Estate in Bradford, which is well known for being rough. She led the life of a poor, stuggling mother and at the same time was a significant playwright telling the story of working-class struggles.
The documentary tells the story of her life through lip-synced interview answers played out by actors and this has led some people to comment on a blurred line between “reality” and fiction. It has gained some impressive publicity after it won the 2010 Guardian First Film award and was described by one of the judges, Peter Bradshaw as an “experimentalist docudrama close to genius”, while another, actor Saffron Burrows, said it was “utterly unique and devastating”.
For a chance to watch this independent production see the screening at the London Independent Film Festival 2011 which runs between April 14 and 25.Tweet