The Arbor

The Arbor Trailers

Original title The Arbor
Category Documentary, Drama
UK Release Date
Production year 2010
Production Country
Directors Clio Barnard
Cast Christine Bottomley, Manjinder Virk, Natalie Gavin, George Costigan, Monica Dolan, Neil Dudgeon, Jimi Mistry, Robert Emms, Kate Rutter, Danny Webb, Matthew McNulty, Kathryn Pogson, Jonathan Jaynes, Lizzie Roper, Liam Price
Distributor Verve Pictures


The Arbor is the powerful true story of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar (The Arbor, Rita, Sue and Bob Too) and her daughter Lorraine. Andrea wrote honestly and unflinchingly about her upbringing on the notorious Buttershaw Estate in Bradford and was described as 'a genius straight from the slums.' When she died, tragically at the age of 29 in 1990, Lorraine was just ten years old. The Arbor catches up with Lorraine in the present day, also at 29; ostracised from her mother's family and in prison undergoing rehab. Through compelling interviews we learn that Lorraine sees her mother as a destructive force throughout her childhood; an alcoholic who let her suffer abuse and whom Lorraine blames for all that is wrong in her life. Through interviews with other members of the Dunbar family, we see a contrasting view of Andrea, in particular from Lorraine's younger sister Lisa, who idolises Andrea to this day. Re-introduced to her mother's plays and private letters whilst in prison, the film follows Lorraine's personal journey as she reflects on her own life and begins to understand the struggles her mother faced. A truly unique blend of documentary and fiction, The Arbor is a captivating and revelatory piece of cinema.