BEN (24, British-Asian) is stuck in a rut. Life hasn’t turned out as he planned. His girlfriend HELEN is studying abroad in Granada, Spain and has stopped returning his calls. He drops everything and heads to Spain to save his relationship. Unfortunately it’s too late, she’s moved on with another guy.
Distraught and heartbroken, Ben moves into a hostel and struggles to adapt to the foreign culture. He meets a AMELIA (38, Australian backpacker), who encourages him to make the most of being in Spain. But it’s only when he meets a group of teenage, study-abroad students, OSCAR (Norwegian), LUCAS (Spanish), ANNA (Chinese), SILVIA (Italian) and immigrant BIG DAVE (USA) and BILAL (Pakistani) that he starts to push himself out of his comfort zone.
Ben enrols on a Spanish language class, moves into their apartment and soaks up the various cultures that inhabit the city. From Moorish influences to Flamenco Gypsies, he tries to find a sense of belonging in a city full of foreigners. However behind every corner there’s always a reminder of Helen and his struggle to find closure.
Films of Influence
Abid Khan: Writer/Director
In 2005 I studied for a month in Granada, Spain. I arrived confident but after my first few days I realised the locals didn’t speak much English. I experienced culture shock and came to the realisation that I was not as cultured as I thought I was. Thrown into the deep end I pushed myself out of comfort zone and started to adapt to a new culture and lifestyle.
I stayed an extra 10 months and met some amazing people from all walks of life from gypsy cave dwellers, hippies, students from all around the World. All these foreigners live side by side with the Moroccan expats and Spanish locals. But it was the friendships I made with my fellow international classmates that were the most special because we all shared common ground – we were all foreigners in a foreign land. We shared experiences and collectively took our first steps into the adult world.
I interviewed many other study-abroad students in many other countries and they all echo the same feeling that there is something special and liberating about being young and abroad. Every international student looks back at their study abroad experiences as a special time in their lives where they made friends from people from all around the world and shared with them a truly unforgettable experience.
Why this film?
“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 a foreigner trying to adapt and find a sense of belonging in a foreign. This works on many different levels and reflects 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 immigrants/study abroad students, 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.
It’s important this film needs to be made now. With the rise of the Far Right, racism, bigotry, terrorism, BREXIT, Trump and the refugee crisis – we need to remind people why it’s essential to come together and try to understand one another. To unite people over our similarities whilst celebrating our diversity.