BBC Arts, BBC Films and Arts Council England have together partnered with Cuba Pictures and the National Theatre to bring LOVE to BBC Two later this year.

In his first feature film, National Theatre Artist in Residence, Alexander Zeldin (pictured) will write and direct LOVE, which tells the story of families brought together and placed in temporary accommodation in the run up to Christmas.

Among them is Colin, a middle-aged man, and his elderly mother Barbara, relocated from their previous housing, and a young couple, Dean and Emma, preparing to welcome a new child into their family.

LOVE is based on the play of the same name which opened at the National Theatre in December 2016 in a co-production with Birmingham Rep, before transferring to the Rep in 2017.

The bonds of love that keep people together are put to the sternest test in this modern tale of hope, family and courage.

Zeldin, who was named Artist in Residence at the National Theatre in 2017 and the following year was the winner of the Arts Foundation 25th anniversary Fellowship For Literature, says: “During one of those meetings that seem to be more than simple chance, a friend gave me a report about families in bed and breakfasts at Christmas. These were families living in limbo, in emergency housing in the run up to Christmas. Here, in a very direct kind of language, were testimonies, voices that spoke truthfully about families, fear, about an individual’s struggle with society, and above all, about love.

“I wanted to look into the most essential intimacy that we all share: children, parents, care for others, hopes and longing. A crucial step in the creation of LOVE was meeting these families, visiting them at home and over two years, involving them at various stages in rehearsals, in improvisations based on the scenes in the piece.

“The stories I seek to tell are those of the everyday, of apparently simple struggles in Britain today. I’m really pleased to be working with the original cast of the play and with the BBC, the Arts Council and Cuba Pictures, and to be able to tell these stories on film.”

LOVE starts principal photography this week and will shoot for two weeks in London. The cast will be led by Nick Holder as Colin, Anna Calder-Marshall as Barbara, Luke Clarke as Dean and Janet Etuk as Emma, reprising the roles they originated on stage.

Emma Cahusac, Commissioning Editor, BBC Arts, says: “I am delighted to bring this outstanding work to BBC Two as part of our Performance Live strand. Alexander Zeldin’s LOVE depicts with devastating effect the reality of life in a temporary housing facility, exploring in the minutest detail what the hopelessness of their situation does to their personal relationships.”

Rose Garnett, Director of BBC Films, says: “We are thrilled Alexander Zeldin is making his first feature film with the BBC. I’ve been watching his stage work for some time and his poignant, contemporary and human way of storytelling is going to resonate deeply with the BBC Two audience. Together with our partners at BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Cuba Pictures and the National Theatre, this is going to be a very special film not to be missed.”

Tarek Iskander, interim Director of Theatre, Arts Council England says: “We are thrilled that this important work will receive the wider audience it deserves. It speaks directly to important social issues that should be part of public conversation. Alex is a great example of the formidable power of our artists and the urgent resonance of our theatre – and we are delighted to collaborate with our partners to bring this exceptional piece to your screens.”

Executive Producers Dixie Linder and Nick Marston of Cuba Pictures, say: “We have been massive fans of Alexander’s incredible theatre work for many years and are delighted to be working with him on his first film. LOVE was an extraordinary play and we are so pleased a wider audience will be able to see it. We are also very pleased to be working with BBC Films, BBC Arts, the Arts Council and the National Theatre.”

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, says: “Alexander Zeldin is one of our most singular and original theatre artists, constantly finding new forms of expression for the current moment. LOVE is an important piece of work, asking essential questions of austerity and marginalisation which sent out a clarion call when it opened at the NT and at Birmingham Rep. We’re thrilled that wider audiences will have the chance to see LOVE later in the year through our partnership with BBC Films and BBC Arts, Arts Council England and Cuba Films on this feature.”

LOVE is produced by Cuba Pictures and is a co-production with the National Theatre for BBC Arts BBC Films and Arts Council England. The Producer is Caroline Lawrence and the Executive Producers are Dixie Linder and Nick Marston for Cuba Pictures, David Schwimmer, Rufus Norris for the National Theatre, Emma Cahusac for BBC Arts, and Polly Stokes for BBC Films.

The film will be shown on BBC Two in late autumn 2018 as part of the BBC’s Performance Live strand.

The play will tour to the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, Théâtre de L’Odéon, Paris and Comédie de Valence in autumn 2018.

LOVE will be distributed theatrically by the National Theatre.

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