Blue Jean is a new film about a lesbian gym teacher facing up to her sexuality during a time of political persecution.
In Georgia Oakley’s stunning directorial debut Blue Jean, released by Magnolia Pictures, it’s 1988 England and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government is about to pass a law stigmatizing gays and lesbians, forcing Jean (Rosy McEwen, in a powerhouse performance), a gym teacher, to live a double life.
As pressure mounts from all sides, the arrival of a new student catalyzes a crisis that will challenge Jean to her core. The BAFTA-nominated film won the Venice Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award, as well as four British Independent Film Awards.
Director Georgia Oakley says: “In 1988, enraged by Thatcher’s proposed law Section 28, a group of lesbians abseiled from the gallery of the House of Lords onto the floor, demanding protection of the rights of lesbian and gay people in the UK. The culture of silence propagated by this law, which prohibited schools and local governments from ‘promoting’ homosexuality, had devastating effects on my generation.
“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. I’m fed up with everyone saying how far we’ve come, when insidious, homophobic laws like this still exist across the globe. I have a six-year-old stepdaughter, and all I ever hear at her school is the same old narrative – it’s all ‘mummies and daddies’. There’s very little education for kids about different types of families. The legacy of Section 28 is alive and well, and it’s just one example of horrific institutionalized homophobia that LGBTQ+ communities have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
“We tried to dig into all of this with Jean’s narrative. To explore how ‘coming out’ isn’t just a singular moment in time; it’s a day-in, day-out battle. The choice whether to correct the taxi driver who has just assumed your girlfriend is your sister. The choice of words when your kid’s friend from school has just asked which one of you is the ‘mummy’. The choice whether to wear your queerness boldly, in the way you dress or cut your hair, or to disguise it, in favor of an easier ride.”
Blue Jean hits theatres on June 9.