BEN (24, English) is stuck in a rut. Life hasn’t turned out as he planned. His girlfriend HELEN (21, English) is studying abroad in Granada, Spain and has stopped returning his calls. Ben decides to get his life back on track. He quits his dead end job and heads to Spain to save his relationship. Unfortunately it’s too late, she’s moved on with a local Spanish guy.
Distraught and heartbroken, Ben moves into a hostel and meets AMELIA (22, Australian), who encourages him to make the most being in Spain. He soaks up the diverse culture but struggles to adapt to being in Spain. It’s only when he meets a group students, OSCAR (19, USA-Norwegian), LUCAS (18, Spanish), ANNA (18, French), NOWGI (18 Korean), and Silvia (22, Italian) that he discovers a sense of belonging.
Ben decides to stay. Enrols on a Spanish class and moves into an apartment. With his new foreign friends, he crashes into the hedonistic student scene. But with rejection, after rejection he starts to wonder if he will ever find love again.
He discovers a city full of foreigners including the Moroccan community, Flamenco Gypsies, British expats and International students. But behind every corner is a reminder of Helen and his struggle to find closure.
“We’re at a crossroads in European history. In five years’ time we will either see an increase in the forces of hatred and division in society, including ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, or we will be able to fight this horrific tendency.”
Emine Bozkurt, a Dutch MEP who heads the anti-racism lobby at the European parliament.
The story is about an outsider trying to adapt and nd a sense of belonging. It’s themes are of tolerance and acceptance. This works on many different levels and re ects in Ben’s journey of trying to move on from a long-term relationship. His rebirth is coupled with his (and his friends) own acceptance of where their lives are heading.
Many students regardless of nationality, go through the same rituals and it’s this shared experience that makes them bond together, giving them valuable experiences, memories and friendships that last forever. They come out of the experience with a better understanding of other cultures and religions.
Europe is going through a crisis at the moment. From the Syrian refuge crisis, EU immigration constraints, UK referendum on leaving Europe and the rise of both terrorism and the Far Right makes this story of acceptance and tolerance an important story to tell.
Initial concept started in 2005 when I was in Granada. I was surprised there was no lm that captured the true realistic rites-of-passage of a young study-abroad student. I felt there was a need to tell this story and over the last three years I have visited Granada many times and have written over 20 drafts of the script.
I wanted to keep the script as authentic and real as possible and therefore I wrote all the scenes of the script at the various scene locations in Granada. This unorthodox method has allowed me to keep the script authentic, as well as helping me to location recce and storyboard at a very early stage.
The storybook kingdom of Granada is one of the oldest most complex, magical and beautiful places in Spain. Granada is tucked against the Sierra Nevada mountains of Andalusia in Southern Spain. A city in a country that gave us the Spanish Inquisition and anarchy. Christianity and Islam traded places, shared space and the effects and influences of all those things are evident.
Granada also has approx 80,000 students which contributes to a large proportion of the living population. Every year 10,000 foreign students flock here to study. There are also many forms of foreigners; from Moroccan migrants, British expats, gypsy cave dwellers to holidaymakers.
It’s own rich history and architecture illustrates conflict between different cultures which makes this city and important character in the story an will be reflected in the aesthetics of the film.
Each location reflects Ben’s journey and becomes a character in it’s own right. The script was written at the actual locations, which adds a sense of authenticity and realism to the film. This allowed me to storyboard and shot plan the film at a very early stage.
At first it’s hard to talk about a project that’s taken several years of blood, sweat and tears to develop. I know the story I have is amazing, the doubt comes when you’re unsure of how people will respond. I spoke about Granada Nights at Micro-Budget Mentor evening last Thursday and it was the first time I talked about the film outside my circle of friends. The result was great as I received a fantastic response, a lot of of support and interest in the project and I thank everyone involved. It helps greatly!