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Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan Lesbian Drama Accused of Making Up Gay Relationship — Director Responds

IndieWire logo IndieWire 18/03/2019 Zack Sharf
Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan posing for the camera: Untitled-collage-12 © Shutterstock Untitled-collage-12

Writer-director Francis Lee (“God’s Own Country”) has taken to social media to defend his upcoming film “Ammonite” against accusations it is fictionalizing a gay relationship involving British paleontologist Mary Anning. Kate Winslet is starring in the drama as Anning, while Saoirse Ronan is playing a makeshift nursemaid who begins a relationship with the paleontologist. In an interview with The Telegraph, some of Anning’s relatives criticized the film for including what they say is a made-up gay relationship. The relatives say Anning’s sexuality was never confirmed.

“Do the film-makers have to resort to using unconfirmed aspects to somebody’s sexuality to make an already remarkable story sensational?” Barbara Anning said. “Imagine the shame and embarrassment this woman would be feeling right now to actually have her private sex life discussed and played out on screen. This adds nothing to her story.”

Video: Saoirse Ronan reveals her part in upcoming 'Ammonite' (The Journal)

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Barbara Anning said there is not “any evidence to back up portraying [Mary] as a gay woman,” adding, “I believe Mary Anning was abused because she was poor, uneducated, and a woman. Is that not enough?”

Another relative, Lorraine Anning, said she believes the decision to create a gay relationship involving Mary is to make it more attractive to moviegoers. Lorraine referred to Mary as “a loner, and an independent woman,” saying that in today’s time it could lead some to assume she was a lesbian.

“To be honest, it doesn’t matter,” Lorraine added on a more optimistic note. “As long as it’s well presented and tastefully done and in the spirit of Mary Anning, then I think it’s brilliant.”

Saoirse Ronan, winner of the Best Actress award for 'Brooklyn', and Kate Winslet, winner of the Variety Award, © Getty Saoirse Ronan, winner of the Best Actress award for 'Brooklyn', and Kate Winslet, winner of the Variety Award, Lee responded to the accusations on social media by writing, “After seeing queer history be routinely ‘straightened’ throughout culture, and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context?”

“As a working class, queer film maker, I continually explore the themes of class, gender, sexuality within my work, treating my truthful characters with utter respect and I hope giving them authentic respectful lives and relationships they deserve,” Lee added. “I would now love to get on with the business of actually making a new film which I hope you will like.”

“Ammonite” is now in production. Read Lee’s entire comments below.







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