‘We Found Love in the 80s’
Photograph: Dawinder Bansal

This new documentary uncovers the secrets of long-term relationships

Artist Dawinder Bansal on a film for our Tinder-obsessed times

Phil de Semlyen

If the ’80s makes you think of mobile phones the size of your head, Roland Rat and Duran Duran hanging off yachts, well, join the club. But short doc ‘We Found Love in the 80s’ is here to dispel those clichés. Like ‘Creature Comforts’ by way of those ‘Love Is…’ comic strips, it’s an interview-based celebration of enduring love affairs that will be more kitchen sink than kitschy. ‘It’s a journey with couples who met in the 1980s to find what made them stay in love,’ explains director Dawinder Bansal, ‘and what it takes to stay together.’

The film is a collaboration between artist Bansal and ’80s synth-pop deity Martyn Ware from The Human League, who provides a soundscape to accompany the film’s mix of archive footage and talking-head interviews.

‘The ’80s were such an iconic era but there are a lot of parallels to where we are right now’

Bansal interviewed 42 couples, all of whom met in the 1980s and all of whom are still together. ‘There are couples who talk about Section 28 [which], in the ’80s, [made] it illegal to teach about gay relationships,’ she says. ‘We have a Falklands War veteran who met his wife in a nightclub, and a couple who run a vintage shop on Brick Lane. I’m single, so I’m interested in how you stay in a long-term relationship through difficult times.’

TenetDawinder Bansal and Martyn Ware/Outroslide Photography

There’s contemporary resonance in these stories of couples dealing with tough times. ‘The ’80s were such an iconic era for fashion, music, dance and film,’ says Bansal, ‘but there are a lot of parallels to where we are right now: open racism, a [Tory] government, concerns about the environment, and the 1980s had a virus too, in HIV. But I wanted this to celebrate people who overcame obstacles together.’

So has she become a relationship guru along the way? ‘I nearly started crying during the first interview,’ she laughs. ‘It was so emotional. I feel privileged to have heard these stories.’ Prepare your feels for a solid workout. 

‘We Found Love in the 80s’ is available to stream at 7.30pm, Oct 2 as part of Leytonstone Loves Film. Register here to receive a free streaming link.

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