Written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears, My Beautiful Laundrette was the film that launched the career of Daniel Day-Lewis. More than that, however, it was a bold and ground-breaking exploration of issues of sexuality, race, class and generational difference.
Actor Gordon Warnecke played the co-lead with Daniel Day-Lewis in the film, and has also appeared in Franco Zeffirelli’s Young Toscanini as well as the Canadian feature film, Venus and recently Dearest Amena and Goldfish.
On Sunday, he will discuss the film and its legacy with Wolfson students, Syeda Ali, PhD candidate in Modern British History, and Hussain Ismail, MSt student in History.
“My Beautiful Laundrette resonates with today's queer communities and their ongoing challenges with intersectionality, while being anchored in a rich contemporary portrayal of peak Thatcher's Britain,” says Syeda. “The film's central romance depicts the possibility of reconciliation and coherence in a country racked with social, economic and cultural conflict: over thirty years on, this is once again a film for our times.”
Syeda – who started her PhD after a career in secondary history education – is herself strongly committed to promoting diversity within the history curriculum, and championing equality and diversity more broadly in schools. She completed her MA in Queer History at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she first developed an interest in the use of oral history.
She is interested in the intersections between education policy and school practice in 1980s Britain, with a particular focus on the regulation of gender and sexuality. And she uses oral history interviews with teachers to assess the impact of Section 28 in schools – a legislation that prohibited “the promotion of homosexuality” in Britain from 1988 - 2003 – and within a wider cultural and social context.
Hussain Ismail is Wolfson College’s BME Welfare Rep and studies an Mst in History in ‘Ancient Roman legal thought and slave commercial activity.’ He is a practising artist in theatre and also a music producer. He has been in the leadership of the anti-racist movements in East London, and is currently involved in housing activism.
Hussain describes My Beautiful Laundrette as “one the most seminal films of the Thatcher era”.
“I’m excited for the screening and the discussion,” he says, “and I know Gordon Warnecke is excited to speak to Wolfson College and Cambridge students to relate why the film still resonates today on themes of race, class and sexuality.”
How to attend the event
The event is free and open to all. Booking is necessary via Eventbrite here.
The screening begins at 16:30 in the Lee Hall, Wolfson College, with a running times of 97 minutes, and is immediately followed by the Q&A.
The event ends at 19:15.