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For her debut feature, filmmaker Georgia Oakley returns to 1980s Britain as Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government has introduced Section 28, a clause of the Local Government Act that seeks to prohibit “the promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities across the United Kingdom.
At the time, protests were rife, but many gay women and men felt compelled to keep their sexuality a secret.
Blue Jean, written and directed by Oakley, follows Jean, a school gym teacher who keeps her sexuality a secret from her colleagues. The threat is immediate and real: if exposed, her love life could cost her her job. However, Jean finds little sympathy from her girlfriend, Viv. Out and proud, Viv is part of a cooperative of similarly assertive lesbian women. Viv regards secrecy as a capitulation to an increasingly oppressive system. As pressure mounts from all sides, the arrival of a new girl at school catalyzes a crisis that will challenge Jean to her core.
Blue Jean debuted at Venice Days, where it won the People’s Choice Award, and went on to play London, Rotterdam, and Zurich. The film has also picked up four gongs at the BIFAs, including Best Debut Screenwriter, and is nominated for the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer BAFTA.
“My motivation for telling Jean’s story stems from a personal understanding of internalized homophobia, as well as a desire to give voice to those forgotten teachers who battled stigma and defamation under Section 28,” Oakley has said of the film. “I’m fed up with everyone saying how far we’ve come when insidious, homophobic laws like this still exist across the globe.”
The film stars Rosy McEwen, Kerrie Hayes, and Lucy Halliday. Hélène Sifre produced. Additional credits include cinematography by Victor Seguin, editing by Izabella Curry, costumes design by Kirsty Halliday, and music by Chris Roe
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