Modern Love

A programme of National Film and Television School fiction and documentary films and a TV show, connected by the theme of finding love, curated from our collection by Emily Mason .

By National Film and Television School

Marwan plucks up the courage, in Arafat and I (2008) by Daniel Stafford-ClarkNational Film and Television School

As Shakespeare wrote, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’.  Today, we face a unique set of challenges when trying to find love.  In this collection, we will see how student filmmakers have explored some of these difficulties.  

Waiting for Women - a still from the film, 7 of 7 (2009) by Estephan WagnerNational Film and Television School

Waiting for Women (2009)

In this documentary, a group of men in the remote Spanish village of Riofrio are hoping to find love.  They invite a group of single women from Madrid to their town for an evening of frivolity. 

Waiting for Women - a still from the film, 5 of 7 (2009) by Estephan WagnerNational Film and Television School

The braggadocio of the men as they discuss their romantic prospects is juxtaposed with the care they take when preparing for the arrival of the women, as they clean, paint and decorate rooms for the party, and thoughtfully choose outfits to wear.   

Waiting for Women - a still from the film, 1 of 7 (2009) by Estephan WagnerNational Film and Television School

For the most part, it seems like the men and women are fundamentally at odds with each other, with the majority failing to find lasting romance, and leaving us with a bittersweet ending.  In any case, the film shows that you’re never too old to enjoy the thrills of flirtation.

Love Gym - a still from the film, 4 of 5 (2016) by Marika SantalaNational Film and Television School

Love Gym (2016)

From Love Island, to The Bachelor, to Blind Date, the popularity of dating shows seems to grow year by year.  It’s no surprise, then, that NFTS students have also tried their hands at this format. 

Love Gym - a still from the film, 1 of 5 (2016) by Marika SantalaNational Film and Television School

In Love Gym, contestants get to know each other during an exercise class, bonding over crunches, push-ups and burpees.  Those who are the most compatible are treated to a private class, followed by a steamy trip to the sauna. 

Love Gym - a still from the film, 2 of 5 (2016) by Marika SantalaNational Film and Television School

In today’s world of fitness influencers, this pilot taps into the lives of young people in a way that feels relevant and fresh. It isn’t at all difficult to imagine the Love Gym being the next big thing!  

Mahdi Fleifel and Ximena Vera in Arafat and I (2008) by Daniel Stafford-ClarkNational Film and Television School

Arafat and I (2007)

We also see dating as a common theme in many of the fiction films made by NFTS graduates.  Arafat and I deals with questions around identity, and the process of getting to know someone.  

Marwan presents Lisa with the present she never knew she wanted, in Arafat and I (2008) by Daniel Stafford-ClarkNational Film and Television School

Marwan, a young Palestinian man living in London, has a new girlfriend, Lisa.  Exciting enough as that is, he also finds out that she shares a birthday with Yasser Arafat.  However, when he buys her a book so she can learn more about Arafat, it doesn’t end well.

Mustafa discussing love and identity in Arafat and I (2008) by Daniel Stafford-ClarkNational Film and Television School

This interesting take on intercultural dating examines the importance of being understood by your partner, whilst also depicting the frictions which can occur in the early days of a new relationship.  Marwan simply wants Lisa to understand his culture. Is that too much to ask?  

Zein Ja'far as Mustafa in Arafat and I (2008) by Daniel Stafford-ClarkNational Film and Television School

Look What You Have Done to My Heart - a still from the film, 4 of 5 (2001) by Michael PearceNational Film and Television School

Look What You Have Done To My Heart (2001)

This heartbreaking short from Michael Pearce - director of Beast (2017) - offers an intimate look at one woman’s relationships.  The ambiguity of the main character’s motivations highlights the fact that feelings can’t always be easily understood. 

Look What You Have Done to My Heart - a still from the film, 2 of 5 (2001) by Michael PearceNational Film and Television School

Seemingly encouraged by her partner, a character known simply as ‘girlfriend’ goes out on the town by herself.  At a club, she meets another man, with whom she spends the rest of the night. 

Look What You Have Done to My Heart - a still from the film, 5 of 5 (2001) by Michael PearceNational Film and Television School

Intimately shot with sparse dialogue, this film raises questions about the impulses we act on, and the ways that relationships can constrict us.  It offers no easy answers to these questions, instead allowing us to experience the uneasy mood of an ambiguous relationship.  

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