is shot in sequence, trying to echo the uncertainty that is part of everyday life. Fish Tank has its roots in a single image.
‘I won‘t tell anybody what it is. because I feel like it gives the film away,‘ she says. ‘I had an image of Katie doing something. and I wondered: what was she doing. why was she doing it. and I start writing outwards from that image. It‘s one of the strongest images in the film and that’s how I’ve always written.’
Newcomer Katie Jarvis stars as Mia. a sullen, stroppy 15-year-old who lives with her mother and younger sister. She appears to be at war with the world. lashing out at all comers with verbal and physical abuse. We see a very different Mia when she meets her mother‘s sexy new boyfriend Connor. a security guard played by Michael Fassbender. Fish Tank may seem to tell an age-old story of fatal attraction and blighted lives but Arnold constantly catches the viewer off balance as events start to assume the air of Greek tragedy. Her skill is finding the flaws and vulnerability in even the most
unapproachable character. which was part of the attraction for Fassbender. a rising star after his performance in Hunger.
“What’s always interesting with Andrea‘s work is you have these characters that do questionable things, and it doesn’t make them
ARNOLD HAS THE ABILITY TO DISCERN THE
morning.’ says Arnold. ‘She worked incredibly hard and was in nearly every scene. And she got quite tired. When you‘ve done film before. you know how to pace yourself at the weekend. But Katie‘d go out and party or buy loads of shoes with the money she suddenly had.‘
One of Mia's great passions in the film is her dancing. When she practises her moves in a deserted flat and dares to enter an audition tape for a local talent search we begin to view her as a human being with aspirations towards a better life. Arnold's original instinct was to search for a girl who could dance and hope that the acting came naturally. In the end. she settled for the exact opposite and made it work for the film.
‘We couldn't find any girls who were right.‘ Arnold admits. ‘When I met Katie she wouldn’t actually dance . . . we had to leave her with the camera so she could dance on her own. When she did her dancing it was absolutely about herself: it wasn‘t a show.’
Jarvis was unable to attend Fish Tank's Cannes premiere as she has just given birth to her first child. Arnold is not even sure that Jarvis will want to make acting a career. although after becoming one of the discoveries of Cannes 2009 she has recently
signed it with an avent. The lack of
EXTRAORDINARY FROM ORDINARY LIVES
essentially “evil“ — words like that are sort of black and white — but there‘s a lot of shading in there.‘ says Fassbender. ‘The audience leaves the cinema questioning what they just saw. and questioning the morality of the actions of these characters. Essentially. I never wanted to judge the character or his actions. I just wanted to play it moment by moment and let the story take care of itself. in Andrea’s hands.’
Arnold always brings out the best in her actors and has an eye for spotting raw potential. Kate Dickie was unforgettable as the vulnerable CCTV operator in Red Road. Seventeen year-old Katie Jarvis was a complete novice before being cast as Mia in Fish Tank. A scout spotted her yelling at her boyfriend on a train station platform and thought she might have the spirit to play Mia.
‘It was an interesting experience: she’d not long been out of school and hadn’t done any work yet. and then she was doing something that required her to be up at five every
expectations surrounding any newcomer is what makes Jarvis’s portrayal of Mia all the more arresting and is in keeping with Arnold‘s style of making films that feel as true to reality as possible. Arnold is not someone who explains a film away. Instead. she invites the audience to supply their own feelings and interpretations. She even seems reluctant to explain the film‘s title. merely observing: ‘It just felt absolutely right. People always want to put something on the documents for the film early on. Before you‘ve even made the film. they want to know what the title is. I always feel I need to feel the film first. and see what it‘s going to
be before I think of the title. So I kind of
resist the title thing until I absolutely have to. I‘m not sure, but - Fish Tank — there‘s a lot of life in a fish tank: it’s a small space. I felt that was a good metaphor for the film.‘
Fish Tank, Cameo, Sun 21, 8.15pm; Wed 24 Jun, 3pm, £8.50 (£7.50).
David Pollock meets the curator of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival to find out more about the fan-created documentary
For those who count themselves among its regular crowd. the feeling is that once youve been to All Tomorrow’s Parties you can't go back to just any old festival. Currently held in a Butlin's holiday camp at Minehead. Somerset. the tri-annual weekend places a bunch of underground and alternative bands within the rather incongruous setting of the camp's entertainment hall and pioneered the idea that the headlining act should choose who plays with them on the bill.
Now the festival is the subject of a feature documentary produced by Warp Films which will receive its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The event at the Picture House will feature a special live performance to boot — we're sworn to secrecy. but fans of ATP won‘t be disappointed. The festival's organiser. Barry Hogan. explains how the film has been made using the same democratic Spirit that means fans are occasionally asked to choose the festival's bill.
'lt‘s made up of footage recorded by the fans themselves.‘ he says. 'They've used Super 8. video cameras and mobile phone footage; it's like a collage. You see people arriving during the day. bands playing and the chalet parties which happen afterwards.‘
Recorded over various events and featuring performances from Sonic Youth. Belle and Sebastian, Patti Smith, Iggy and the Stooges. Portishead. Mogwai. Slint and many others. the film. says Hogan. captures the spirit of a festival that predates the idea of the boutique event; the first ATP followed on a year after Belle and Sebastian's Bowlie Weekender in 1999.
‘We‘re looking to have a party to celebrate Our tenth anniversary over the next year,’ he says. 'and I'd like to do more events around the world to go with the ones we do in America and Australia. Japan would be good. And Scotland? Why not — we could fill a whole weekend just with great Scottish bands.‘
I HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Wed 24 Jun; Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh, Thu 25 Jun.
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