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Doc/Fiction Hybrid The Arbor Wins Guardian First Film Award

by Sophia Savage
January 28, 2011 6:29 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood


Clio Barnard's film The Arbor has won The Guardian's First Film Award. The film is a about English playwright Andrea Dunbar, best known for Rita, Sue and Bob Too, an autobiographical sexual-adventures drama about teenage girls living in the slums of Bradford, England. The play was turned into a film by Alan Clarke in 1986 and caused un uproar with residents of the Buttershaw council housing estate, where Dunbar lived.

The Arbor uses actors lip-synching to recordings of Dunbar's family, thus raising questions of the films authentic 'documentary' status. "I don't mind what they call it," says Bardard. "It's meant to provoke. Part of the rationale was to show that truth is unstable, that true documentary will always fail." For her, it's more documentary than fiction "because of the archive material and the audio recordings…But the blurring between the two is deliberate." Dunbar died of a brain hemorrhage in 1990 at age 29.

The trailer is after the jump.

Barnard and producer Tracy O'Riordan were nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

[Image courtesy of Slant Magazine]

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