‘Peterloo’ Director Mike Leigh to Visit

Mike Leigh, Festival Patron and Director of Peterloo, will visit the Festival on Saturday 10th November

The Saturday Night Gala is always one of the highlights of the festival weekend, and this year is no exception!

The evening kicks off with the eagerly anticipated historical epic, Peterloo, starring Maxine Peake (Funny Cow, Silk) and Rory Kinnear (Skyfall, Black Mirror). We are absolutely delighted to announce that the film’s director and festival patron Mike Leigh will be in attendance. Mike will conduct a Q&A session after the film. The festivities will then move to The Poly bar for an exclusive festival-themed drink and a chance to discuss the film further.

Mike is a prolific and acclaimed independent filmmaker who delivers intimate and emotional tales of British lives. He has made 21 films in total, including Abigail’s Party (1977), High Hopes (1988), Life is Sweet (1990), Secrets and Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999)Happy Go Lucky (2008) and Mr Turner (2014). 

With access to his biggest budget to date (£14m), Peterloo tells the story of the 1819 Peterloo massacre on a truly ambitious scale. On August 16th, 1819, a band of cavalry and yeomanry charged with sabres drawn into a crowd of 100,000 unarmed people, many of whom were unable to escape the enclosed space. Public records detail how the crowds had gathered in St Peter’s Field in Manchester to hear Henry Hunt—an anti-poverty and pro-democracy radical reformer—deliver a speech of hope, at a time when only 2% of the UK population could vote and many were impoverished and hungry. The horror that ensued that day, with an estimated fifteen fatalities and hundreds wounded, eventually led to vote reform for ordinary people and the foundation of the Manchester Guardian newspaper.

On Peterloo, Leigh worked closely with London-based LipSync Post, one of the independent film’s financial backers alongside Amazon, to bring this 19th Century English story to life. LipSync, which since 2008 has also invested some £75m in TV and film projects, carried out the VFX work and picture and audio post for the film. Among the film’s many documented triumphs is the 90% VFX-created crowd scene: 

“A film like this is unprecedented in my experience,” says Leigh. “There were 80,000 to 100,000 people at Peterloo in 1819. Well, we had 200 extras, and that cost us a bob or two. There was a lot of very good crowd replication stuff. You can now do all kinds of wonderful subtle things with colour, texture and all; I think it’s great.”

In fact there are over 300 VFX shots in the film, with everything from crowd duplications, sword extensions, wounds and blood spray, to the recreation of the St Peter’s Field period buildings and billowing flags.

The result of this technical virtuosity is a jaw-dropping visual spectacle that’s as heart-poundingly tense as it is moving. This is a genuinely important work of film, not just in terms of historical representation, but as a reflection on today’s climate of resistance.

Don’t miss your chance to see Peterloo and put your questions to its director—tickets are selling out fast! 

Click here or ring The Poly to book: 01326 319461

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  1. Pingback: Peterloo at the Poly with a Mike Leigh Q&A for Cornwall Film Fest Gala - D&CFilm

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