Mike Leigh is an English writer and director of film and theater. He began his career in theater, studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and directing and writing for the stage. In 1971 he made the transition into film, directing his first feature film "Bleak Moments," but it would be 17 years until he directed another feature—"High Hopes" in 1998. In those intervening years, he focused on television plays, characterized by their gritty "kitchen sink realism" style. His most notable works are arguably "Naked" (1993) for which he won the Best Director Award at Cannes, the BAFTA-winning (and Oscar-nominated) Palme d'Or winner "Secrets & Lies" (1996) and Golden Lion winner "Vera Drake" (2004). His most recent film is "Another Year" (2010).
Question: Are you optimistic about the future?
Mike Leigh: I can’t really see how anybody could be particularly optimistic about the future in general because we are destroying the planet. I mean we have been having a conversation here for some half an hour or perhaps 40 minutes and in the time that we’ve been talking far more people have been born who will fit into this entire skyscraper in New York that we’re actually sitting in and they have to be fed and the world hasn’t got any bigger in that 40 minutes, so... And this is quite apart from... I mean, territory and food and resources are going to be fought over and that is quite apart from the additional burden of ridiculous religious fundamentalism of various kinds. So it’s quite hard to be optimistic about the future, but we battle on and you know we value life and we… some of us try and express some sense of hope through the work that we do, but we can’t just sit around being blindly optimistic because we are on serious disaster courses I would say, but that is not news.
Recorded on October 7, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller