Jackie works as a CCTV operator. Each day she watches over a small part of the world, protecting the people living their lives under her gaze. One day a man appears on her monitor, a man she thought she would never see again, a man she never wanted to see again. Now she has no choice, she is compelled to confront him.
A scene from The Bells (1926) is optically reprinted and edited to Michael Gordon¹s 7 minute composition. A meditation on the fleeting nature of life and love, as seen through the roiling emulsion of an film.
There was some controversy when the film won the Best New Documentary Filmmaker at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 as some members of the jury were unsure whether it qualified as a documentary or not. See more »
Andrea Dunbar wrote two plays before she died tragically young at the age of 29 - 'The Arbor', of which we see snatches and scenes here, and 'Rita, Sue and Bob, Too', which was made into a well-regarded film.
This drama-documentary is rather different to the usual type because not only does it use real interview and actual footage of Dunbar from her TV appearances, but uses real interviews with her family and friends which are then lip-synched (very well) by professional actors. This sounds like a gimmick, but we very quickly forget we are not watching the real people talking about their lives - when we do get jolted out of this by associations with other work (George Costigan 'plays' Dunbar's partner but also of course was 'Bob' in the aforementioned film), it still somehow works.
Dunbar's story was a tragic one, one of wasted talent and a toxic life, to some degree, although her children - mixed-race Lorraine and Lisa - have very different stories about their childhood and the impact their mother had on them. Lorraine's story is just as tragic in its way, and we follow that following the description of Andrea Dunbar's death.
A new and dynamic way of presenting real people's issues and problems, 'The Arbor' is very possibly something Dunbar could have created herself had she lived. As it is, it stands as an interesting memorial to her talent.
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