The first ever BFI London Film Festival premiere outside the capital comes with a profound poignancy as Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, about the tragedy of 1819, will debut in front of UK audiences in the city that inspired it – Manchester.
Mike Leigh’s latest film, Peterloo, brings to vivid life the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, recreating the true story of how a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Manchester turned into a notoriously bloody fight for life when government forces stormed into a crowd of 60,000 people. Protesting against poverty and demanding political reform, many protesters lost their lives with hundreds more injured. A defining moment, the Peterloo Massacre was a precursor and part-inspiration to the founding of liberal newspaper The Guardian.
The director behind brilliant subtle politicised comic-dramas like Life Is Sweet and Meantime sticks to the true story after the critical success of Mr. Turner which saw him dramatise the life of painter J. M. W. Turner. Also responsible for Secrets and Lies and the exceptional husband-wife comedy-drama Another Year, Leigh is justifiably enthused by the opportunity to debut the film in Manchester.
“It’s always an honour to be included in the glorious London Film Festival, but how inspired and generous of the Festival to screen Peterloo in Manchester, where it all happened,” he said. “I’m truly delighted!” Written and directed by Leigh, Peterloo is an epic portrayal of the events at St Peter’s Field in Manchester when one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history saw the massacre of civilians by the British government after forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 demanding political reform and protesting against rising levels of poverty. The Peterloo Massacre remains a defining moment in British democracy.
HOME’s Artistic Director of Film, Jason Wood said of the upcoming premiere: “It is fitting that Manchester audiences will be amongst the first to see this highly anticipated film which focuses on a pivotal event in our city’s and our nation’s political history.” A Q&A will follow, simulcast to cinemas around the UK with the director and members of the cast (which includes Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Vincent Franklin, Neil Bell, Philip Jackson, Karl Johnson and Tim McInnerny) in attendance.
Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Artistic Director called Peterloo a “rousing, powerful film of immense scale”. She added that the BFI London Film Festival was “thrilled to partner with Entertainment One to host [the film] from the beautiful cinemas at HOME in the heart of Manchester where the film is set, and to take the premiere out to audiences UK-wide through the simulcast.”
Peterloo will be released in UK cinemas nationwide on November 2.