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Andrea Arnold
by Pat Frickey

On October 1 Filmfest Hamburg was fortunate to welcome back award-winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold to the Cinemaxx for the premier of her documentary film COW (see review). She is no stranger to the Filmfest Hamburg where she appeared on the red carpet in 2016 for one of my favorite Filmfest Hamburg premiers, AMERICAN HONEY. I just assumed she was American since she so artfully captured the essence of disinherited, impoverished white youth. This year Filmfest Hamburg decided to shine a spotlight on her along with Sean Baker under the section Gegenwartskino im Fokus (Contemporary Cinema in Focus). Besides COW, two of her other films, WUTHERING HEIGHTS (2011) and RED ROAD (2006) were also shown.

It had been announced that Andrea Arnold would be interviewed following the screening of COW, and the interview would be available on the film festival site under Bargespräche 2021 (Bar Talks 2021). I had been looking forward to seeing her in this interview, but it never appeared on the website. A disappointment, yes. However ultimately a filmmaker’s work is not to be judged by her interviews, but by the films themselves. And hers are worth watching.

Andrea Arnold was born in 1961 in Dartford, Kent, England. According to her IMDb biography she grew up the eldest of four children living in a council house in Dartford. She left school early in the late ‘70s to become a dancer on TV shows. Not the most auspicious start for such an accomplished filmmaker.

But growing up in a council house and leaving school early obviously didn’t stop Arnold. She went on to become an actor, a TV presenter, a writer and eventually a filmmaker. In the ‘90s she moved to the States for a year and studied at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In 2004 she won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for WASP. Shortly thereafter Danish director Lars von Trier invited her to join his project, The Advance Party, for which he selected three different directors to make three films using the same set of characters. Arnold's contribution was RED ROAD.

Arnold might be accused of being the darling of the Cannes Film Festival. She was tapped the winner of the Prix du Jury in 2006 for RED ROAD, in 2009 for FISH TANK, and in 2016 for AMERICAN HONEY. This year’s entry COW, a brutal documentary, is a real aberration from her already diverse films; perhaps the jury couldn’t quite stomach it. GROSSE FREIHEIT which was the opening film at Filmfest Hamburg won the Prix du Jury instead. Andrea Arnold and COW would have gotten my vote.

Those interested in reading KinoCritics reviews of Arnold’s other films can go to these links.

RED ROAD (Becky Tan):

FISH TANK (Jenny Mather: