Clio Barnard’s “The Arbor,” a portrait of playwright Andrea Dunbar (“Rita Sue and Bob Too”) and her daughter, has been picked up by Strand Releasing. The film, which won Barnard a best new documentary filmmaker prize at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, will get a theatrical U.S. release in April 2011.
The film pushes the limit of form; it is not simply a straightforward documentary and not an adaptation of Dunbar’s work. On this site, Eric Kohn comments, “Tracking the experiences of British playwright Andrea Dunbar and her children, Barnard uses actors to lip-sync the words of their real life counterparts, creating an unexpectedly engaging narrative device.” He continues, “The cumulative impact of ‘The Arbor’ is one of claustrophobia; at times, the endlessly downbeat adventures of Dunbar and her offspring grow almost unbearably morose. There’s no escape because nobody has the capacity for it. [Dunbar’s daughter Lisa’s] despair speaks to the impact of trauma on collective memory, turning ‘The Arbor’ into a document of grief.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Strand’s Marcus Hu said, “‘The Arbor’ is an amazing and unique project. It’s both artful and compelling viewing.” The deal was struck between Jon Gerrans of Strand Releasing and John Flahive of Wavelength Pictures.