Synopsis: LOVE + BLOOD follows the life and work of performance artist Franko B. From his seminal bleeding performance in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall to his personal struggles with family, trauma, and ambition, the film explores an extraordinary life lived by an artist without compromise.
Escaping a tumultuous and violent childhood in Italy, Franko came to London at the end of the 1970s as a teenager. On the lively streets of Brixton, he became an unlikely artist, rising to fame in the 1990s for live performance work using his own blood. His areas of focus have always been decidedly radical, including: queer sex, HIV/AIDS, hardcore body art, punk, and political/cultural violence.
From the beginning, his practice often referenced a very difficult childhood, part of which was spent in an Italian institution for neglected children. A self-proclaimed outsider, Franko’s works come with a steep personal cost: financial, emotional and physical. Following a serious injury during a performance, Franko was forced to give up his signature bleeding work and redirect his ambition.
With unprecedented access that can only come with a close personal friendship, filmmaker Nathaniel Walters follows Franko’s journey from Italy through his rise to fame in the UK, his struggle to stay relevant post-bleeding and his relationship with Tom, his mentee turned lover and life partner. When Franko launches plans for his most ambitious performance, the first to directly confront his childhood, the film returns with him to Italy. From the orphanage that rescued him to a reunion with the family he ran away from 40 years earlier, the trip promises to change the course of his artistic practice. And, it does.
Franko’s story is told through a mix of personal interviews, actuality, and performance, as well as lost and rare archival footage. Using animation, digital enhancement and the voices of notable artists and friends, we see Franko’s extraordinary work as never seen before. Through intimate performance documentation and access to Franko’s extensive archives, the film raises powerful questions about the purpose of art, and how it fuels connection across love, family, and society. In the end, LOVE + BLOOD offers a deeply personal and timely glimpse into an inspiring life of a truly remarkable and influential queer artist.
Originally from California, Nathaniel lived in Asia for 6 years before settling in the UK. His film career has been exceptionally varied, working across almost all genres including experimental, feature narrative, documentary, television, installation, interactive, adult and, perhaps most embarrassingly, corporate. At the moment, his time is primarily spent shooting and directing for a range of UK broadcast outlets. Past highlights include working on the reality show Survivor, an animation endorsed by Radiohead, and an award-winning TV documentary on disability and employment. His previous indie feature documentary experience includes Transgender Tuesdays, which he co-directed and edited. Currently, Nathaniel works primarily as coordinator for Extinction Rebellion’s UK video team.
Nathaniel and Franko first met in 2001 through Nathaniel’s husband and their long standing acquaintance. Through the documentation of performances Nathaniel grew to become a dedicated fan of both Franko and his work. Begun as a degree project at Royal Holloway, Love + Blood grew quickly into the love letter to a friend it’s become.
Currently based in London, Nathaniel made LOVE + BLOOD with the help and support of husband/business partners Mickey Koh and Nick Charnley through their company Little Red Dots.