Screened as part of NZIFF 2013

The Selfish Giant 2013

Directed by Clio Barnard

The notable British film at Cannes is the tale of two Bradford boys who fall in with a horse-racing scrap metal dealer. “Heartfelt and passionate, fluent and supremely confident... this is a heart-wrenching movie.” — The Guardian

UK In English
93 minutes DCP



Tracy O’Riordan


Clio Barnard. Inspired by the short story by Oscar Wilde


Mike Eley


Nick Fenton

Production designer

Helen Scott

Costume designer

Matthew Price


Tim Barker


Harry Escott


Conner Chapman (Arbor)
Shaun Thomas (Swifty)
Sean Gilder (Kitten)
Rebecca Manley (Shelly Fenton)
Siobhan Finneran (Mrs Swift)
Steve Evets (Price Drop Swift)
Lorraine Ashbourne (Mary)
Rhys McCoy (Daniel)
Elliott Tittensor (Martin Fenton)


Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight) 2013


The notable British film at Cannes this year was the fiction debut of Bradford filmmaker Clio Barnard, who first came to attention with The Arbor, her unforgettable documentary about playwright Andrea Dunbar. This contemporary fable about the friendship of two 13-year-old boys of strikingly different temperaments falling under the influence of a scrap metal dealer who runs gypsy horse races on the side is partially modeled on Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name. Exciting, tough and superbly acted by a mix of non-professional and recognisable character actors, this is a bracing dispatch from the bottom of the heap, in an inimitably British tradition of heightened realism.

 “So hauntingly perfect is Barnard’s film, and so skin-pricklingly alive does it make you feel to watch it, that at first you can hardly believe the sum of what you have seen: the astonishingly strong performances from her two young, untutored leads; Barnard’s layered script; Mike Eley’s snow-crisp cinematography that makes the streets of Bradford shine…

“Like Ken Loach’s Kes, the film knells with myth: we get a keen sense of an older, purer England buried somewhere underneath all this junk, from the early wide shots of horses in meadows, idling belly-deep in morning mist, to the extraordinary, almost wordless final sequence that hints at redemption and reincarnation.” — Robbie Collin, Telegraph

“Barnard’s storytelling is heartfelt and passionate, fluent and supremely confident and this is a heart-wrenching movie with some stunning set pieces… This is a fine film.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian