Mia is just 15 but fully capable of giving a sudden headbutt to the nose of an opponent. She's been expelled from school and lives with her mother and her 11-year-old sister on a tower block estate in Essex. Mia is a loner, drinks too much, picks fights with everyone, is always in trouble. Only when she gets the chance in a derelict flat to practise for a street style dance contest is there ever any hope in her life.
And then, when her mother brings her new boyfriend home, the summer looks as though it might brighten up. Connor is charming, he organises day trips for them all and supports Mia in her preparations for the dance contest. Yet neither Connor nor the dance contest hold what they promise.
Andrea Arnold shot Fish Tank in chronological order, meaning that at the end of the week the actors were only shown the part of the script they would be working on the following week. When they were filming, they did not know how the plot and their characters in the film would evolve.
Katie Jarvies, who plays Mia, was discovered by one of Andrea Arnold's colleagues having a fight with her boyfriend at a train station. For this her first role, she was named the 'Young British Performer of the Year' at the British Independent Film Awards.
Andrea Arnold, born 1961, has worked as actor, author and director of short films and TV for many years. In the 1980s, she was host and actor in the children's programme No. 73. Her short film WASP won the Oscar® in 2005. Her first full-length film also picked up many awards including the BAFTA Scotland for Best Director and Best Screenplay, the Cannes Festival Jury Prize and first prize in the International Feature Film Competition at the Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival 2007.