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Oscar winner makes a splash at Cannes with Fish Tank

PUBLISHED: 17:23 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:43 25 August 2010

GOLDEN GIRL: Multi-award winner Andrea Arnold.

GOLDEN GIRL: Multi-award winner Andrea Arnold.

A CUTTING edge director and Oscar winner is hoping for similar success at this year's Cannes film festival.

A CUTTING edge director and Oscar winner is hoping for similar success at this year's Cannes film festival.

Andrea Arnold, originally from the Fleet Estate, Dartford, brings her second feature length film, Fish Tank, to the 62nd Cannes festival, which runs until Sunday.

The 48-year-old, who now lives in Greenwich, made her directorial debut in 2005 with the short film Wasp and went on to pick up a BAFTA, a Cannes Jury Prize and five Scottish BAFTAs for her first feature, Red Road, in 2006.

Talking about Fish Tank, which tracks the unstable lives of a family in a council estate in Tilbury, Essex, she said: "Hoodies are portrayed in the press as being in gangs, trouble. But they're just kids."

The film - up for the main Palme d'Or prize - stars Tilbury teenager Katie Jarvis as 15-year-old Mia - a flawed, but feisty heroine, expelled from school and cast off by her best friend.

She shares an apartment with her mother and sister and then her mother's new man Connor (Michael Fassbender) moves in, destabilizing the already shaky family.

Fish Tank is full of artful shots of Tilbury, an area few consider attractive.

She added: "I don't know why people don't see it as beautiful. It's got really fantastic wild spaces. Even that block of flats - there's lots of people there, loads of kids, lots of energy. I don't see it as a bad place."

Ms Arnold, whose father John Arnold lives in Craigie Court, Dartford, plucked Jarvis out of obscurity as the 17-year-old had never acted before.

But when the director saw her giving her boyfriend a 'dressing down' at a railway station, she said she knew she was right for the part, and saw her inexperience as an asset.

She said: "Sometimes knowing too much can be a problem. She didn't know very much, so had no fear in a way."

The driector first came to prominence as a television presenter alongside Sandi Toksvig in the 1980s children's TV show No. 73 - a latter-day version of The Kumars at No. 42.

In 1990 she presented and wrote for the environmental awareness show for teens, A Beetle Called Derek, featuring roots poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

A former Fleet Primary School and Leigh City Technology College student, she lived on the Fleet Estate until her teens when she moved to Greenwich.

Elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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