Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name, The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about two teenage boys who get caught up in the world of copper theft.
The Selfish Giant stars Sean Gilder (The Fall, Shameless), Siobhan Finneran (Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Downton Abbey), Lorraine Ashbourne (Oranges and Sunshine), Steve Evets (Looking for Eric), Elliott Tittensor (Spike Island, Shameless) and talented newcomers Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas in their debut acting roles. The film is produced by Tracy O’Riordan (The Arbor, Desh).
The Selfish Giant is backed by the BFI Film Fund and Film4, and was developed with support from both Film4 and the BFI. International sales are being handled by Protagonist Pictures. Shooting took place in Bradford for six weeks.
The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 14-year-old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own community, the boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrapman, and begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses and Arbor has a business brain and a way with words – they make a good team. But when Arbor begins to emulate Kitten by becoming greedy and exploitative, tensions build, leading to a tragic event which transforms them all irrevocably.
The Selfish Giant is writer/director Clio Barnard’s second film, following on from The Arbor, her feature-length documentary film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. The Arbor received huge critical success on its release in 2010 and numerous awards including The Douglas Hickox Award at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), Best Screenplay at the Evening Standard British Film Awards, Best British Newcomer at the BFI London Film Festival, Best New Documentary Filmmaker at Tribeca and The Grierson Award for Best Cinema Documentary.
Barnard based her adaptation of ‘The Selfish Giant’ on stories she was told and people that she met whilst making The Arbor. She got to know a group of boys between the ages of 10 and 16 who used horses and carts to collect scrap metal, and in particular one boy who was the basis of the character of Arbor in the film. Barnard describes her second feature film as “a re-telling of a fairy tale based on fact”.