The Molly Dineen Collection: Volume 2 - The Ark DVD

Molly Dineen, 1993

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Film Details

Directed by Molly Dineen

Produced in 1993

Main Language - English

Countries & Regions - British Film

Film Description

Molly Dineen is one of Britain's most acclaimed contemporary documentary filmmakers, known for her intimate and probing portraits of British individuals and institutions, and recipient of numerous awards including BAFTA, Grierson and RTS awards for documentary. This is the second of three volumes that brings all of her films to DVD for the first time.

When Molly Dineen went to London Zoo in 1991 she planned to make 'a small film about the life of the keepers and animals'. Nine months later, she had shot over 100 hours of footage and had begun an edit that would last the best part of a year. The result was the BAFTA award-winning four-part series The Ark, charting one of the most turbulent years in the history of the much-loved menagerie from the perspective of both the keepers and management.

The series was enormously popular and, at the time of its first transmission, was widely recognised as a metaphor for an ailing, increasingly divided Britain, in which social problems that once seemed manageable now seemed intractable.

Through these gripping hour-long films, Molly Dineen reveals the inner workings of London Zoo as the institution is rocked by uncertainty and change in the face of drastic cuts. It is not only members of staff, passionately committed to their work, who face redundancy; heartbreakingly tough decisions must be made about which animals to remove from the Zoo’s lively and lovable collection. Tensions continue to build as rebel groups threaten an all-out coup.

Dineen's obvious rapport with her subjects elicits revealing and moving responses to her direct questioning from behind the camera. The quartet of films that tell this fascinating behind-the-scenes story are shot through with intimacy, wit and compassion: the hallmarks of Molly Dineen’s exceptional work.

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Publisher: BFI

Length: 240 mins

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 0

Released: 29th August 2011

Cat No: BFIVD913

DVD Extras

  • 2 discs
  • New interview with Molly Dineen on the making of The Ark, featuring Alan Yentob and sound recordist Phil Streather (2011, 30 mins)
  • New interview with Molly Dineen and editor Edward Roberts on the craft and techniques of editing observational documentary (2011, 20 mins)
  • Illustrated booklet with new essays and notes, with contributions from Guardian and BBC Radio 4 journalist Mark Lawson, writer Stella Bruzzi and BFI National Archive curators
  • Extensive fully illustrated booklet featuring essays, credits and biographical information.

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