The latest news out of Cannes teases a new directorial debut to look forward to. Deadline reports that “Blue Jean,” written and directed by Georgia Oakley, is among the many enticing titles on offer at the film market this year. They describe the British film as an “identity drama set during Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as UK Prime Minister.”
Set in 1988, the film follows a gay PE teacher, Jean (Rosy McEwen, “The Alienist”) who is forced to live a double life when Thatcher’s government passes a new law that stigmatizes the LGBTQ+ community. But, the source details, “when a new student arrives and threatens to expose her, Jean is pushed to extreme lengths to keep her job and her integrity.”
The law, known as Section 28, banned — among other things — teachers from promoting in schools “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” In effect, it prevented teachers and those working for local authorities from even acknowledging the existence of homosexuality, and though the law was repealed in 2000 in Scotland, in 2003 in most of England and Wales, and in 2004 in its entirety, the law’s legacy extended far beyond those years, with a lasting culture of shame and homophobia fostered in schools — with teachers, for a long time, powerless to intervene.
The film, which is in post-production, also stars Kerrie Hayes (“Tin Star”), and Stacy Abalogun (“Death on the Nile”), with Hélène Sifre of Kleio Films producing. The film has the backing of BBC Film and the BFI, while Film Constellation have boarded sales.
Oakley is the writer-director of short films “Hush” and “Callow & Sons,” and also directed the documentary short “We Did Not Fall from the Sky.” Another of her shorts, “Little Bird,” was nominated for Best Narrative Short at Tribeca, and is currently being developed into a TV series.