The latest trailer for the critically acclaimed indie drama Blue Jean gives a moving insight into the Conservative Party’s despised Section 28.
Directed by British filmmaker Georgia Oakley, Blue Jean follows lesbian PE teacher Jean (played by Rosy McEwen) as she navigates the trials of keeping her sexuality secret at her school in Tyneside.
Jean’s life is turned upside down by the introduction of Section 28, the draconian legislation devised by prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1988 that prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools, forcing teachers back into the closet and fearing for their livelihoods.
As the new policy forces Jean to lead a double life, the arrival of a new lesbian student, Lois (Lucy Halliday), puts her under greater pressure when she bumps into her on the local queer scene.
As Lois seeks a place of her own in the world and someone to look up to, Jean must reckon with how politics affects her personal life.
The official trailer for the drama shows the devastating cost of Section 28, which wasn’t revoked until 2003.
In an interview with Screen Daily, Oakley described how the film was inspired by her own experiences of homophobia and the resurgence of far-right politics fuelling violence against the LGBTQ+ community.
“My experiences at school were not dissimilar to Lois. I wanted [the film] to have these dual perspectives on institutionalised homophobia and how it trickles down,” she explained.
“The film gives a warning about what it was like. History, unfortunately, is a bit cyclical.”
The film is all the more pertinent as the UK government comes under fire for using Section 35 to block Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform bill, which would make it easier for trans people to update their gender marker on their birth certificates.
Alongside the heartbreaking narrative, the film also promises an authentic look into lesbian culture and the vibrant community in the North East of England.
Blue Jean has already received acclaim at the British Independent Film Awards where it won four awards, including McEwen for lead performance, Kerrie Hayes (as Jean’s girlfriend Viv) for supporting performance, Oakley for debut screenwriter and Baig for casting.
“It’s the most special thing I’ve ever done,” McEwen said during her acceptance speech.
“It’s the most beautiful story about a group of women that we didn’t know anything about and I’m so grateful to be a part of telling their story.”
Critics seem to be wholly in agreement, given the film’s positive reviews. “Oakley’s restrained yet powerfully poised film doesn’t shoot for fuzzy big-picture universality,” Variety noted.
“It’s so rare in British cinema to see the ‘L’ in ‘LGBTQ+’ up there in such bold type, which makes Blue Jean not only a biting look at this historical moment but a riveting act of redress,” The Telegraph observed.
Blue Jean opens in UK cinemas on 10 February during LGBTQ+ History Month.