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Fish Tank Case Study (2009)

Rob Miller | Tuesday September 27, 2011

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Media Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Media Studies, Film, British Film, Independent Film, Social Realism


  • Writer / Director – Andrea Arnold (b.1961, Dartford)
  • Part funded / Executive Production by BBC Films
  • Produced by Kasander Films (Arnold’s Production Company)
  • Additional funding: UK Film Council (Prints and Advertising Fund - £70,000, New Cinema Fund - £644,000 and Development Fund - £20,000)
  • Nominated for the Palm D’Or at Cannes 2009
  • Winner of Jury Prize at Cannes
  • 2010 BAFTA – Best British Film
  • Distributed by Artificial Eye (Independent)
  • Production Budget - £1.8m
  • Distribution Budget (limited)

  • 40 Screen release (limited distribution)
  • Arnold previously directed Red Road (2006), also winner of the Cannes Jury Prize


Social Realism (following original genre template) but challenging the template with female authorship and pluralistic, strong female protagonists


A 15 year old girl from a dysfunctional family falls for her Mother’s boyfriend, with consequences

Central Protagonists

Mia played by newcomer Katie Jarvis, Connor - Michael Fassbender (only well known actor)

Fish Tank is a critically successful, independent Social Realist film that follows clear genre conventions, but as with many Mike Leigh films e.g. Vera Drake, Happy Go Lucky develops the genre template to offer strong, pluralistic representations.

Traditionally original 1950s Social Realism has male authorship and male central protagonists, films like Room at the Top and Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and in recent years This is England, Looking For Eric, The Full Monty....and many others on the British Film Timeline handout follow a familiar formula.

Precious (2009), an independent American Social Realist film offers very similar representations to Fish Tank – female central protagonists from a dysfunctional family aspiring for a better life, abusive mothers, narrative themes involving education and under age sex both carrying a BBFC 15 certificate reflecting issues of...

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