Writer, director and Patron of Humanists UK
Writer-director Mike Leigh was born in 1943 in Salford. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Camberwell and Central Art Schools in London, and at the London Film School, of which he is now the Chairman. He is best known for his pioneering technique of using extensive improvisation and collaboration during the rehearsal period.
His first feature film was Bleak Moments (1971); this was followed by the full-length television films, Hard Labour (1973), Nuts in May(1975), The Kiss of Death (1976), Who’s Who (1978), Grown-Ups(1980), Home Sweet Home (1982), Meantime (1983), and Four Days In July (1984).
Other feature films are High Hopes (1988), Life Is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993) (Cannes: Best Director and Best Actor), Secrets and Lies (1996) (Cannes: Palme d’Or and Best Actress; 4 Oscar nominations),Career Girls (1997), Topsy-Turvy (1999) (two Oscar Awards, 5 nominations), All Or Nothing (2002), Vera Drake (2004) (Venice: Golden Lion & Best Actress; 6 BIFA’s, 3 BAFTA’s including Best Director, 3 Oscar nominations), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) (one Oscar nomination), and Another Year (2010) (one Oscar nomination).
He has written and directed over twenty stage plays, including Babies Grow Old (1974), Abigail’s Party(1977), Ecstasy (1979), Goose-Pimples (1981), Smelling A Rat (1988) and – commissioned by the National Theatre – Two Thousand Years (2005) and, most-recently, Grief (2011).
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