Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

The Arbor 2010

Directed by Clio Barnard

Revelatory, complex and moving documentary about the legacy of British playwright Andrea Dunbar (Rita, Sue & Bob Too) whose incisive portrayals of working class life, from the time she was 15, mirrored her own.

UK In English
94 minutes DigiBeta



Tracy O’Riordan


Ole Bratt Birkeland


Nick Fenton
Daniel Goddard


Molly Nyman
Harry Escott


Manjinder Virk (Lorraine)
Neil Dudgeon (Steve)
Monica Dolan (Ann)
Danny Webb (Max and father)
Christine Bottomley (Lisa)
Kathryn Pogson (Pamela)
Natalie Gavin (Girl in The Arbor)
Jonathan Jaynes (David)
Jimi Mistry (Yousaf in The Arbor)
George Costigan (Jimmy ‘the Wig’)
Kulvinder Ghir (Rafee)


Tribeca 2010


British playwright Andrea Dunbar was 19 when her play The Arbor was staged at London’s Royal Court in 1980. Its raw, incisive portrayal of the cycles of violence and addiction on a tough Bradford housing estate was drawn directly from her own experience, brutalised and pregnant at 15. Two plays and one film (the raucous, funny Rita, Sue & Bob Too) later, she was dead, at 29. Clio Barnard’s riveting film about her legacy concentrates on the experiences of the oldest of her three children, the similarly lucid and plain-speaking Lorraine, whose conception was mirrored in the play. Illuminating the interplay of ‘reality’ and fabrication in her own work as much as in Dunbar’s, Barnard directs actors who lip-synch acutely well to the often jaw-droppingly blunt interviews she has gathered. Excerpts from the play prove its enduring, excoriating vitality, while extensive TV coverage of the young playwright and her family add a further dimension. This is an intensely moving film, as white-hot in its clarifying urgency as the work that inspired it. — BG

“One of the finds of the New Zealand International Film Festival thus far.” —Tim Wong, The Lumiere Reader