Mike Leigh is a giant of British Cinema. His cinematic debut came in 1971 with Bleak Moments and was described by the critic, Roger Ebert as, ‘a masterpiece, plain and simple’. He has never looked back.
In a career spanning nearly 50 years his story-telling on film has captured the detail of ordinary people’s lives.
He says, ‘My films are about humanity, so there’s always love, warmth and humour…. I never made a film that is exclusively bleak’.
A Mike Leigh Film Festival you would expect. A Mike Leigh Film Festival in Bridport, Dorset may seem a little less likely and yet, here it is.
We are thrilled and delighted that Mike has agreed to attend this, our very first festival of his films. He will be here in person for all four days and at the end of each day will take part in a Q & A accompanied by award-winning composer Andrew Dickson, who wrote the score for six of the seven films we have chosen.
‘Working with Andrew Dickson was for me always an endlessly exciting and refreshing experience. His beautiful scores for my films started from his deeply emotional response to the material. Eschewing conventional musical clichés, and through a gloriously idiosyncratic kind of alchemy, he would arrive at a unique and pure sound – rich, evocative, melancholy, witty, tuneful, and always quite unlike any other film music you’ve ever heard.
Savour his imaginative choice of instruments – his delectable harmonica (‘High Hopes’), his sweeping harp (’Naked’), his haunting evocation of children’s voices (‘Vera Drake’), or the wonderfully quirky combo of ’tack’ piano and saxophone he uses to enrich ‘Meantime’. This is not just any old film music, it’s music for the soul’.
The final film of the festival is his latest, the much anticipated and critically acclaimed, Peterloo.
How often do you have the chance to watch seven outstanding films and then meet the writer and director as well as the composer? This is a wonderful opportunity to do just that and to ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted to ask. Not to be missed.
Sun 24 Feb
17:00 Peterloo (12A) (2018) 154 mins
An epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester turned into one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history. The massacre saw British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reform and protest against rising levels of poverty. Many protestors were killed and hundreds more injured, sparking a nationwide outcry but also further government suppression. The Peterloo Massacre was a defining moment in British democracy which also played a significant role in the founding of The Guardian newspaper.
The music for this film was composed by Gary Yershon.
20:00 Q&A with Mike Leigh and Andrew Dickson
READ the full Mike Leigh Film Festival programme
READ more about the films in this festival
Mike Leigh image courtesy of Myrna Suárez.