Q&A with Mike Leigh on May 29

Although best known for his kitchen-sink portraits of the British middle and working classes, Leigh delivered arguably his greatest turn with this lavish, one-of-a-kind backstage musical about the creation of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s 1885 opera The Mikado. Despite the atypical story and setting, however, Leigh once again devised the film through his patented improvisational method, working intensively with the actors (including the brilliant Jim Broadbent as Gilbert, Allan Corduner as Sullivan, and Timothy Spall as G&S muse Richard Temple) over a six-month rehearsal process to develop their characters, the narrative, and an understanding of the period. The result is an uncannily perceptive and acutely personal film about the hard work of artistic creation, capped by a glorious staging of The Mikado itself featuring Oscar-winning costumes and makeup. An NYFF37 selection. 2K Restoration. A Janus Films release.