Like many directors at TIFF this year, Annabel Jankel was inspired by a book, in this case Fiona Shaw’s 2009 novel Tell It To The Bees, about an illicit love affair between two women in 1950s Britain. “I think [the attraction] was the sense of the outsider,” mused Jankel when she arrived at the Deadline studio with her two leading ladies, Holliday Grainger and Anna Paquin. “[These] two women that had found themselves up against the wall, with no real place to go, not really knowing where the journey was going to take them and ultimately arriving at the place that they both needed to go to, but without actually knowing it.”
Paquin plays Jean, a doctor who returns to her hometown in the film’s opening scenes. Explained Paquin, “Jean grew up in this small town, but left because, ultimately, she was found out to be a lesbian—and that was not OK in the 1950s. It was a very traumatizing incident. She’s come back to take over her father’s medical practice in the wake of his passing, and she’s also very much an outsider in this town that should be her home but is absolutely no way welcoming of her coming back. So she’s quite lonely and appreciative of somebody who comes into her life without any judgment or expectation.”
Grainger plays Lydia, the woman who comes to fill that gap. “Lydia’s husband has just left her,” she said, “and she’s at the end of her emotional tether, feeling lost and unloved and unhelped. And then when she forms a friendship with Jean, Jean helps her trust herself again and love herself again. To have a vision of her own future, to break down the social class barriers and just believe in herself.”
To find out more about Tell It To The Bees, click on the video above.