Film at Lincoln Center presents Human Conditions: The Films of Mike Leigh, a retrospective of the widely lauded director’s career, running from May 27-June 8.
For over half a century, Mike Leigh has directed films suffused with emotion and the realities of working-class struggle. From his debut feature, Bleak Moments (1971); to his ’70s television work for the BBC; to the breakout mid-career successes of Life Is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993), and Secrets and Lies (1996); through the historical films that have marked his output more recently, like Mr. Turner (2014) and Peterloo (2018), a Mike Leigh film always has an unmistakable energy and feeling for the triumphs and tragedies of everyday life. Leigh is one of world cinema’s most ardent, relentless humanists, and one of the great directors of actors: his oeuvre abounds with spellbinding, bracingly multilayered portrayals from some of the UK’s finest screen performers of the past 50 years, in no small part due to Leigh’s unique working methods. Join Film at Lincoln Center as we look back and celebrate Leigh’s singular career with the most comprehensive retrospective of his work in New York to date, featuring new digital restorations.
As a special highlight for the retrospective, three of the director’s films will be presented in 35mm: All or Nothing, Leigh’s eighth theatrical feature, chronicling the lives and working-class struggles of three proletarian families in London; NYFF42 selection and Golden Lion–winner Vera Drake, featuring Imelda Staunton in her Oscar-nominated performance as the titular character, helping women with unwanted pregnancies in early-1950s Britain; and NYFF46 selection Happy-Go-Lucky, Leigh’s irresistible 2008 character study centered on Poppy (played with star-making sparkle by Sally Hawkins), a single, 30-year-old kindergarten teacher whose unwaveringly upbeat embrace of life is reflected in the film’s title.
The series includes six additional NYFF selections: Secrets & Lies, Leigh’s 1996 Palme d’Or–winner starring Brenda Blethyn, who also won that year’s Best Actress Award at Cannes; Naked, which earned two Cannes awards: Best Director and Best Actor for revelatory lead David Thewlis; Topsy-Turvy, a one-of-a-kind backstage musical about the creation of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s 1885 opera The Mikado; Mr. Turner, a portrait of a great artist (J.M.W. Turner, rendered by Timothy Spall) and his time, and a rich, funny, moving film about art and its creation; High Hopes, a narratively surprising and incisive work of social realism; and Another Year, which observes four seasons in the lives of a longtime married couple, their 30-year-old son, and the wife’s troubled work colleague (portrayed by a heartbreaking Lesley Manville).
Organized by Dan Sullivan and Madeline Whittle. Co-presented with Janus Films.
New RestorationAn eloquent study of unexamined lives, Leigh’s debut concerns a repressed office assistant and her painful courtship of a guarded schoolteacher.
New 4K RestorationTwo former flatmates reunite after six years apart in Leigh’s masterful late-’90s comedy-drama, a captivating portrayal of female friendship and the loves and regrets that have marked it along the way. Screening with A Sense of History.
New RestorationLeigh’s second theatrical feature, a narratively surprising and incisive work of social realism, follows a left-wing working-class couple as they interact with a range of characters across the spectrum of classes in English society.
New RestorationA comic yet gently melancholic story with food and symmetry on its mind, Life Is Sweet twins the humble efforts of good-natured chef Andy (Jim Broadbent) to open his own mobile snack bar with the disastrous nouvelle-cuisine pretensions of the grandiose restaurateur (Timothy Spall) for whom Andy’s wife works as a waitress.
New RestorationAn episodic comic drama originally produced for Britain’s Channel 4, Meantime centers on the Pollocks, an East End–dwelling working-class family trying to keep the lights on amid the recession during Thatcher’s premiership. Screening with The Short and Curlies.
4K Restoration | Q&A with Mike Leigh on May 27Dancing on a razor’s edge between violence and tenderness, Leigh’s astonishing and influential fourth theatrical feature follows Johnny (an unforgettable David Thewlis), a sadistic yet charming drifter, as he undertakes a journey to the end of the London night.
New Restoration | Q&A with Mike Leigh on May 28Leigh cemented his status as the poet laureate of modern family life with this story of Cynthia, a working-class white woman whose personal life is transformed when she discovers that a Black optometrist is the child she gave up for adoption 27 years prior.
New Restoration | Q&A with Mike Leigh on May 29Leigh delivered what may be his masterpiece with this lavish, one-of-a-kind backstage musical about the creation of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s 1885 opera The Mikado.
Tickets are $15; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for Film at Lincoln Center members.
Save with the purchase of three tickets or more with the 3+ Film Package. Discount automatically applied when adding at least three tickets to your cart.
Passes are available to pick up at the box office. Your pass will grant access to one (1) for every film in the series, with exceptions listed on our website where applicable. We recommend arriving at least 15 minutes prior to a screening as late seating cannot be guaranteed. Passes do not give access to any free events or talks.