Mr. Turner, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Past Presence: Mike Leigh's Period Films

March 30–April 3, 2019
On the occasion of Mike Leigh's epic new film Peterloo, MoMI presents all four of the director's historical dramas. After working exclusively in the present tense for the first three decades of his career, the English director began exploring stories set in the past, in which he created meticulously researched time machines that nevertheless spoke urgently to the present. This foray started with his Gilbert & Sullivan backstage musical Topsy-Turvy (1999), which was followed five years later with the1950s-set portrait Vera Drake (2004). Ten years later he returned to the historically-based milieu with Mr. Turner (2014), an unconventional late-life biography of master painter J.M.W. Turner. All three films were nominated for multiple Academy Awards. The series concludes with an advance screening of Peterloo (2018), which revisits the events leading up to and including the 1819 Peterloo massacre in Manchester, when British citizens attending a pro-democracy rally were violently struck down by their own English army. Mike Leigh will appear in person for this special screening of Peterloo.