The Arbor

    • Clio Barnard
    • England
    • 2010
    • 95 min
    • Focus: Playing Reality

    In 1977, when Andrea Dunbar was 15, she started work on The Arbor, a play based on her life in a rundown neighborhood of Bradford, in the north of England. Three years later, the play enjoyed a successful run in London. Dunbar became famous and wrote several other plays about similar themes—sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, violence—but then died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1990.

    Director and artist Clio Barnard spent two years making sound recordings of the people from Dunbar’s circle. Instead of using the material as an inspiration for a conventional documentary, she had actors lip-synch to the audio. Every sigh, gasp, and pause in the voices get articulated impeccably by the actors. She interweaves this with scenes from The Arbor that are acted out in Dunbar’s neighborhood.

    Through the confrontation of documentary and fiction, Barnard shows that documentary is always a construction. It is the perfect medium for Dunbar’s semi-autobiographical texts, in which the boundary between fiction and reality is truly a gray area.


    • 95 min
    • color
    • DCP
    • Spoken languages: English
    Clio Barnard
    Tracy O'Riordan for Artangel Trust
    Executive producer
    Michael Morris for Artangel Trust
    UK Film Council
    Ole Birkeland

    IDFA history

    Focus: Playing Reality

    Share this film

    Print this page

    IDFA history

    This website uses cookies.

    By using cookies we can measure how our site is used, how it can be further improved and to personalize the content of online advertisements.

     here everything about our cookie policy. If you choose to decline, we only place functional and analytical cookies