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Thursday, 2 March 2023

Film Festival

Film Festival: First films announced

Hebden Bridge Film Festival has revealed some of the titles confirmed for its 2023 line-up, ahead of the full programme being officially launched next month. 

A Good Person, Blue Jean and The Blue Caftan are amongst the features being screened as part of the festival, which takes place across Hebden Bridge Picture House and Hebden Bridge Town Hall from 24th to 26th March. 

Many of the films being showcased at the festival will be followed by Q&A's and panel discussions with special guests, including film directors, actors, writers and producers.

Written and directed by Golden-Globe nominee  Zach Braff,A Good Person stars Florence Pugh and acting legend Morgan Freeman. Pugh stars as Allison, a young woman whose world falls apart when she survives an unimaginable tragedy and spirals into opioid addiction. Whilst in recovery she forms an unlikely friendship with her would-be father-in-law, Daniel (Freeman) as they discover that forgiveness and hope can flourish in unlikely places.

Receiving rave reviews and taking the international film festival circuit by stormBAFTA-nominated British drama Blue Jean will screen as part of the festival and include a Q&A with actor Kerrie Hayes and producer Hélène Sifre, as well as Catherine Lee and Sarah Squires, who inspired the story. The Evening Standard describes the film as "Fit to stand alongside My Beautiful Laundrette and Pride, Oakley's brilliant film offers hope to anyone who doesn't feel they fit in."

Starring Rosy McEwen (National Theatre's Othello, The Alienist), Kerrie Hayes (Black Mirror) and Lucy Halliday, Blue Jean is set inEngland, 1988, when Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government are about to pass a law stigmatising gays and lesbians, forcing Jean, a PE teacher, to live a double life. As pressure mounts from all sides, the arrival of a new girl at school catalyses a crisis that will challenge Jean to her core.

Sarah Squires says, "As one of the original teachers who inspired the creation Blue Jean and shaped the early scripts, it is now thrilling for me to be part of this event. I love returning to Hebden Bridge having lived here for seven years, and as an ardent fan of the Tod disco I also managed to get it mentioned in the film! 

"It has been quite a journey; from the film set in a disused nightclub in Newcastle to the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. But also, and possibly more importantly, I have found this to be a journey of catharsis and I am now keen to hear how this film has had an impact on others." 

One of the films bringing a global perspective to the festival is the critically acclaimed Moroccan title The Blue Caftan, described as "a work of handcrafted beauty" by The Hollywood Reporter. Presented with partners Happy Valley Pride, the film has been winning prizes at film festivals across the globe, including Cannes Film Festival and was Morocco's entry to the Oscars.  

Directed by Maryam Touzani, the story follows Halim (Saleh Bakri) and Mina (Lubna Azabal), who run a traditional caftan store in one of Morocco's oldest medinas. In order to keep up with demanding customers, they hire a talented young man, Yousef, (Ayoub Missioui) as an apprentice. Slowly Mina realises how much her husband is moved by his presence.  

Previously announced for the festival is short film Incompatible, directed by festival Patron Maxine Peake and filmed locally around Hebden Bridge. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Maxine Peake and fellow Incompatible cast and crew members.

Hebden Bridge Festival Director, Louise Wadley, says, "We are so excited to have A Good Person, Blue Jean and The Blue Caftan confirmed for our 2023 programme. These are beautifully told, emotional and compelling stories that fit perfectly with our theme this year of 'hope and resistance'. They have so far been shown at the likes of Cannes, Venice and Sundance festivals, so we are very lucky to have the opportunity to screen them in Hebden Bridge

"This is just a taste of our line-up and there's plenty more to come. Our full programme will feature even more critically acclaimed, highly anticipated new films, with multi award-winning actors and brilliant directors.

"Our screenings and events will have limited capacity, so for anyone keen to see these films locally I'd highly recommend grabbing a festival pass before they sell out."

Professor Catherine Lee told the HebWeb, "As a lesbian, I have long been fascinated by Hebden Bridge but this visit for the festival will be my first trip to the town and I can't wait!

"I'm thrilled to be invited to take part in the Blue Jean Q&A, and look forward to talking about how my diary entries from my time as a PE teacher in the 1980s helped to inspire Jean's story. I hope also to talk about how profound it was as an adviser on the set of Blue Jean to be transported back to my old life in school during the 1980s.

"Although Section 28, the law that banned teachers from talking about same-sex relationships in school, was repealed 20 years ago, it is important that we learn the lessons from this difficult period in lesbian and gay history.  Our identities became a political football and the media created moral panic during the Section 28 era 

"I hope that by talking about Section 28 and Blue Jean at the Hebden Bridge Film Festival we can raise awareness of this period of state-sanctioned homophobia and in some small way do something to prevent history repeating itself.

"The festival will also be an exciting opportunity for me see some of the other brilliant films showing, that I have yet to see. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed, I might even get to meet Maxine Peake, as I'm complete super- fan!"

Festival passes are on sale now at www.hebdenbridgefilmfestival.org

The full festival programme will be announced on 10th March and passes are now available at the Film Festival website