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World renowned film director joins York Festival of Ideas

Posted on 3 April 2019

British film director, Mike Leigh, will take part in a live discussion about his most recent film, Peterloo, as part of this year’s York Festival of Ideas.

The events of Peterloo were a significant moment in British history

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker will be joined by Professor of Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York, Jon Mee, as he discusses the process of bringing the real-life events of the 1819 Manchester protests on parliamentary reform to the big screen. 

The story of Peterloo begins four years after the British defeated Napolean Bonaparte at Waterloo, when economic conditions, hunger and unemployment were driving communities to fight for radical political reform.  It depicts the events leading up to cavalry forces attacking a crowd of protesters, where 18 people were killed and 650 injured. 

Significant moment

Professor Mee said: “This was a significant moment in British history; what was supposed to be a peaceful protest and to hear from a radical reformist, turned into a massacre.  

“Bringing these events to the screen takes great sensitivity in trying to balance the historical real-life tragedies with the cinematic need to entertain audiences. Mike Leigh is a master at doing this and finding the human stories in events tangled in political upheaval.” 

Audiences can see a special screening of the film at the University of York’s Piazza Building before the event. 

Award winning

The double award-winning York Festival of Ideas will run from 4-16 June 2019 with a programme of over 200 mostly-free events on the theme of ‘World of Wonder’.

The Festival was established and is coordinated by the University of York. It has grown to become one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK, last year attracting an audience of over 40,000.

Peterloo will be screened on Sunday, 9 June, between 12:30pm and 3:30pm, followed by Peterloo: Mike Leigh in conversation from 4pm to 5pm at the Piazza Building, University of York. 

Sign up to the Festival mailing list via the website to be among the first to hear more about this and other festival events. Tickets will be available at the beginning of May:

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