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Blue Jean ‘isn’t just a time capsule’ – BAFTA Breakthrough director on timely LGBTQ+ drama | Films | Entertainment

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Up-and-coming director Georgia Oakley was ‘shocked’ when she learned more about Section 28, which prohibited the promotion and teaching of homosexuality in the UK until 2003.

In her debut feature Blue Jean, actress Rosy McEwen stars as PE teacher Jean, who tries to keep her private life as a lesbian hidden from her class until her home and career start to clash.

Oakley has been named among the list of this year’s BAFTA Breakthroughs, supported by Netflix, for the film, which shines a light on current rhetoric about the LGBTQ+ community despite being set over 30 years ago.

“I remember when we first pitched the film about five years ago,” the filmmaker told Express.co.uk.

“The producer and I spoke very consciously about similar laws that were coming in around the world. Or continue to be in place around the world.

Read more: Scrapper director shares credit with ‘brilliant’ child star Lola Campbell

“I remember trying to point a finger towards that and say, ‘Look, this is not a so-called cultural time capsule about something that happened 30-odd years ago’.

“It’s happening everywhere as we speak, and it is a very current issue. That is how I felt five years ago.”

Since the ideas for Blue Jean first started formulating, the debate around transgender and LGBTQ+ rights has grown far more heated in recent years.

In October 2023, the BBC reported that hate crimes against trans people in England and Wales had risen by 11 percent.

“But, unfortunately, since then, when potentially the links were a little bit more tenuous, things have taken a very sharp downward turn,” Oakley explained.

“There’s been a nasty turn of events, globally.

“By the time the film came out, it would be impossible to watch it without noticing those parallels.

“I was definitely thinking about it when writing, especially the treatment of the trans and non-binary community, and the language used.”

It’s no longer an offence to educate students about homosexuality in classrooms, but Oakley admits she’s been shocked at the lack of education about queer history.

“I had an upstairs neighbour at the time who had been a very integral part of the Greenham Common movement.

“And I was living on a street in London that had been historically used for lesbian housing co-ops, which you see in the film as well.

“Really for my own interest, I was looking into that and the history of women-only housing co-ops. It was only then that I found an article about the women who had abseiled into the House of Lords from the gallery protesting Section 28.

“Despite having been at school during that time, I hadn’t known about it.

“It was partly the shock of that and, in some ways, the shame of not knowing, and wondering why I hadn’t known.

“Now, that’s more obvious to me, and Section 28 has been covered in the press more in the last five or so years.

“But prior to that it was really this nasty secret that had been brushed under the rug. Finding out about it had a huge impact on me, and I was starting to piece together aspects of my personal history.”

Blue Jean is available to rent or buy on Prime Video or stream for free with a BFI Player subscription.

UK BAFTA Breakthroughs:

Adjani Salmon, writer/performer/exec producer – Dreaming Whilst Black

Bella Ramsey, performer – The Last of Us

Cash Carraway, creator/writer/exec producer – Rain Dogs

Charlotte Regan, writer/director – Scrapper

Cynthia De La Rosa, hair & makeup artist – Everyone Else Burns

Ella Glendining, director – Is There Anybody Out There?

Funmi Olutoye, lead producer – ‘Black History Makers’ (Good Morning Britain)

Georgia Oakley, writer/director – Blue Jean

Holly Reddaway, voice and performance director – Baldur’s Gate 3

Joel Beardshaw, lead designer – Desta: The Memories Between

Kat Morgan, hair & makeup designer – Blue Jean

Kathryn Ferguson, writer/director – Nothing Compares

Kitt (Fiona) Byrne, 2D artist/game designer – Gibbon: Beyond the Trees

Michael Anderson, producer – Desta: The Memories Between

Pete Jackson, writer/creator – Somewhere Boy

Raine Allen-Miller, director – Rye Lane

Rosy McEwen, performer – Blue Jean

Samantha Béart, performer – The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow

Talisha ‘Tee Cee’ Johnson, writer/director/presenter – Too Autistic for Black

Vivian Oparah, performer – Rye Lane

US BAFTA Breakthroughs:

Amanda Kim, documentary director – Nam June Paik: Moon Is The Oldest TV

Aminah Nieves, performer – 1923 and Blueberry (Film/TV)

Apoorva Charan, producer – Joyland

Cheyenne Morrin, senior games writer – Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Edward Buckles Jr. documentary director – Katrina Babies

Gary Gunn, composer – A Thousand and One

Jingyi Shao, writer & director – Chang Can Dunk

Maria Altamirano, producer – All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

Santiago Gonzalez, cinematographer – Shortcomings

Shelly Yo, writer & director – Smoking Tigers

Sing J Lee, writer & director – The Accidental Getaway Driver

Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, writer & director – Mutt

India BAFTA Breakthroughs:

Abhay Koranne, writer – Rocket Boys

Abhinav Tyagi, editor – An Insignificant Man

Don Chacko Palathara, director/writer – Joyful Mystery

Kislay, director – Soni

Lipika Singh Darai, director/writer – Some Stories Around Witches

Miriam Chandy Mencherry, producer – From the Shadows and The Leopard’s Tribe

Pooja Rajkumar Rathod, cinematographer – Secrets of the Elephants

Sanal George, sound editor/mixer/designer – Gangubai Kathiawadi

Satya Rai Nagpaul, cinematographer – Ghoomketu

Shardul Bhardwaj, performer – Eeb Allay Ooo!


Up-and-coming director Georgia Oakley was ‘shocked’ when she learned more about Section 28, which prohibited the promotion and teaching of homosexuality in the UK until 2003.

In her debut feature Blue Jean, actress Rosy McEwen stars as PE teacher Jean, who tries to keep her private life as a lesbian hidden from her class until her home and career start to clash.

Oakley has been named among the list of this year’s BAFTA Breakthroughs, supported by Netflix, for the film, which shines a light on current rhetoric about the LGBTQ+ community despite being set over 30 years ago.

“I remember when we first pitched the film about five years ago,” the filmmaker told Express.co.uk.

“The producer and I spoke very consciously about similar laws that were coming in around the world. Or continue to be in place around the world.

Read more: Scrapper director shares credit with ‘brilliant’ child star Lola Campbell

“I remember trying to point a finger towards that and say, ‘Look, this is not a so-called cultural time capsule about something that happened 30-odd years ago’.

“It’s happening everywhere as we speak, and it is a very current issue. That is how I felt five years ago.”

Since the ideas for Blue Jean first started formulating, the debate around transgender and LGBTQ+ rights has grown far more heated in recent years.

In October 2023, the BBC reported that hate crimes against trans people in England and Wales had risen by 11 percent.

“But, unfortunately, since then, when potentially the links were a little bit more tenuous, things have taken a very sharp downward turn,” Oakley explained.

“There’s been a nasty turn of events, globally.

“By the time the film came out, it would be impossible to watch it without noticing those parallels.

“I was definitely thinking about it when writing, especially the treatment of the trans and non-binary community, and the language used.”

It’s no longer an offence to educate students about homosexuality in classrooms, but Oakley admits she’s been shocked at the lack of education about queer history.

“I had an upstairs neighbour at the time who had been a very integral part of the Greenham Common movement.

“And I was living on a street in London that had been historically used for lesbian housing co-ops, which you see in the film as well.

“Really for my own interest, I was looking into that and the history of women-only housing co-ops. It was only then that I found an article about the women who had abseiled into the House of Lords from the gallery protesting Section 28.

“Despite having been at school during that time, I hadn’t known about it.

“It was partly the shock of that and, in some ways, the shame of not knowing, and wondering why I hadn’t known.

“Now, that’s more obvious to me, and Section 28 has been covered in the press more in the last five or so years.

“But prior to that it was really this nasty secret that had been brushed under the rug. Finding out about it had a huge impact on me, and I was starting to piece together aspects of my personal history.”

Blue Jean is available to rent or buy on Prime Video or stream for free with a BFI Player subscription.

UK BAFTA Breakthroughs:

Adjani Salmon, writer/performer/exec producer – Dreaming Whilst Black

Bella Ramsey, performer – The Last of Us

Cash Carraway, creator/writer/exec producer – Rain Dogs

Charlotte Regan, writer/director – Scrapper

Cynthia De La Rosa, hair & makeup artist – Everyone Else Burns

Ella Glendining, director – Is There Anybody Out There?

Funmi Olutoye, lead producer – ‘Black History Makers’ (Good Morning Britain)

Georgia Oakley, writer/director – Blue Jean

Holly Reddaway, voice and performance director – Baldur’s Gate 3

Joel Beardshaw, lead designer – Desta: The Memories Between

Kat Morgan, hair & makeup designer – Blue Jean

Kathryn Ferguson, writer/director – Nothing Compares

Kitt (Fiona) Byrne, 2D artist/game designer – Gibbon: Beyond the Trees

Michael Anderson, producer – Desta: The Memories Between

Pete Jackson, writer/creator – Somewhere Boy

Raine Allen-Miller, director – Rye Lane

Rosy McEwen, performer – Blue Jean

Samantha Béart, performer – The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow

Talisha ‘Tee Cee’ Johnson, writer/director/presenter – Too Autistic for Black

Vivian Oparah, performer – Rye Lane

US BAFTA Breakthroughs:

Amanda Kim, documentary director – Nam June Paik: Moon Is The Oldest TV

Aminah Nieves, performer – 1923 and Blueberry (Film/TV)

Apoorva Charan, producer – Joyland

Cheyenne Morrin, senior games writer – Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Edward Buckles Jr. documentary director – Katrina Babies

Gary Gunn, composer – A Thousand and One

Jingyi Shao, writer & director – Chang Can Dunk

Maria Altamirano, producer – All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

Santiago Gonzalez, cinematographer – Shortcomings

Shelly Yo, writer & director – Smoking Tigers

Sing J Lee, writer & director – The Accidental Getaway Driver

Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, writer & director – Mutt

India BAFTA Breakthroughs:

Abhay Koranne, writer – Rocket Boys

Abhinav Tyagi, editor – An Insignificant Man

Don Chacko Palathara, director/writer – Joyful Mystery

Kislay, director – Soni

Lipika Singh Darai, director/writer – Some Stories Around Witches

Miriam Chandy Mencherry, producer – From the Shadows and The Leopard’s Tribe

Pooja Rajkumar Rathod, cinematographer – Secrets of the Elephants

Sanal George, sound editor/mixer/designer – Gangubai Kathiawadi

Satya Rai Nagpaul, cinematographer – Ghoomketu

Shardul Bhardwaj, performer – Eeb Allay Ooo!

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