Mike Leigh Announces Next Feature

Mike Leigh H 2015
AP Images/Invision

The 'Mr. Turner' director will next focus his attention on the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, which saw British cavalry attack a demonstration in Manchester.

Mike Leigh is delving back into the English history books for his next feature, this time focusing on an incident considered one of the most pivotal moments in Britain's social reform.

The acclaimed director — whose previous title Mr. Turner won its lead, Timothy Spall, the best actor award at Cannes last year — revealed on Friday that his next project, due to shoot in 2017, would be based on the infamous Peterloo Massacre.

In 1819 on St. Peter’s Field in Manchester, British cavalry charged a demonstration said to have numbered in excess of 60,000 people who were protesting crippling economic conditions amid rapid industrialization alongside a lack of voting rights for the poor. Fifteen people were killed and an estimated 700 injured, and while the massacre resulted in an immediate crackdown on reform, it has become regarded as one of the turning points in British history. It also led to the founding of the Manchester Guardian newspaper, now known as The Guardian.

"There has never been a feature film about the Peterloo Massacre," said Leigh. "Apart from the universal political significance of this historic event, the story has a particular personal resonance for me, as a native of Manchester and Salford."

The film will reunite the writer-director with his regular team of collaborators from Thin Man Films, headed by producer Georgina Lowe and cinematographer Dick Pope, who was BAFTA- and Oscar-nominated for his work on Mr. Turner. Like Mr. Turner, which went on to become Leigh's biggest box-office hit yet, taking more than $10 million in the U.K., the film is being developed by Film4.

Joining Leigh and Lowe once again will be executive producer Gail Egan. Helen Grearson will be associate producer.