8th February 2023

The necessity of Oakley’s Blue Jean

The Mancunion went to the preview and premiere of Blue Jean followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers behind the project
The necessity of Oakley’s Blue Jean
Photo: Ibiwunmi Balogun @ The Mancunion

Although every month is LGBTQ+ history month for members of the community, this LGBTQ+ history month’s focus on queer filmmakers is the perfect time to highlight the hardwork of independent queer creatives.

Enacted in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government, Section 28 prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality”, ultimately furthering the legal, social, and political discrimination of queer individuals within the UK. Georgia Oakley’s Blue Jean follows the lives of a range of lesbians living during the section’s enactment. The authenticity in Oakley’s film is palpable due to her extensive research in lesbian history and the first hand input from people like Sarah Squires, a lesbian PE teacher that was working in the late 90s. 

While section 28 was abolished in the early 2000s, its harmful effects are still being documented. Sarah Squires, spoke about her research into these harmful effects on the teachers but also the students that experienced life during section 28’s lifespan.

The main character Jean, played by the talented and respectful Rosy McEwen, is a richly nuanced character that taught even audience members who lived through the period about other lesbian perspectives. McEwen spoke about her learning from conversations with Squires and others with similar experience to prioritise the stories her role was portraying.  

When I asked about the potential pressure of accurately representing lesbian history, Oakley spoke about how they definitely felt pressure but how they focused on doing the story justice and even embraced the fact “not every queer woman that watches it will connect with it and that’s fine”. Being the UK’s third film made about lesbians by an actual lesbian Blue Jean is a necessity to not only the world of cinema but the world at large.

Stunningly shot on 16mm film and inspired by references pulled from the lesbian scene of the 80s, Blue Jean is a must watch film that beautifully captures a series of marginalised perspectives and reminds viewers of the importance of giving voices to those who have been silenced and ignored for far too long.


Blue Jean is released in UK cinemas on Friday 10 February.

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