Arnold, Andrea: Acclaimed Festival Filmmaker Still Searching for Audiences

More than a critics darling, British filmmaker Andrea Arnold has been a festival favorite.  Over the past two decades, she has been a regular presence at the Cannes Film Fest.

It’s hard to think of another director, male or female, who has received such a quick and remarkable recognition from major festivals (Cannes, Venice, Toronto) as Arnold, not even Jane Campion or Gillian Armstrong, her Australian counterparts (both older).

Arnold’s first two short films, “Milk” (1998) and “Dog” (2001) screened in the Cannes Film Fest in the prestigious series Semaine de la Critique (Critics Week).

In 2005, her third short, “Wasp,” received the Oscar Award for Best Live Action Short.

Arnold went on to write and direct two  riginal features, Red Road (2006) and Fish Tank (2009) both of which world premiered at Cannes, where they earned  the Jury Prize and the BAFTA award.

Her recent feature was an audacious but disappointing adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights which had its premiere at the 2011 Venice Film Fest.  She herself has expressed dissatisfaction with her work on that picture.

Sadly, none of her features has found an appreciative audience, despite critical support and festival kudos.
Red Road has 88 percent degree of approval on Rotten Tomatoes, but when it hit theaters, it grossed less than $1 million ($866,550).
Fish Tank, despite the presence of Michael Fassbinder, earned only $374,675 at the domestic box-office.
Her latest film, American Honey, scored big at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards, despite being a commercial flop.
When the drama about a group of nomad kids on a cross-country road trip debuted at Cannes last May, it took the Croisette by storm.  But, once again, it was ignored by audiences when released in late September, grossing only $650,000 in theaters.
The Spirit Awards aim to recognize “small” art movies that fall under-the-radar, and American Honey fits the bill.
The film scored six nominations, in many of the top categories, including best feature, director, female lead (newcomer Sasha Lane) and cinematography.

Shia LaBeouf–Lead or Supporting

Strangely, however, though Shia LaBeouf carries most of American Honey with Lane, he got recognized in the best supporting actor category.  This category is less competitive, and the Spirit Award could actually give him the prize for excelling in playing a gritty part.

American Honey, which is available on DVD and streaming, is worth watching.