Update: Filming has begun on the new film in London, which will “explore family relationships in the post-pandemic work” and finding Leigh “return[ing] to his ongoing exploration of the contemporary world with a tragicomic study of human strengths and weaknesses,” Deadline reports.

With recent retrospectives across the globe––along with his earlier films for the BBC now finally available to a wider audience––the work of Mike Leigh has resonated with new generations. Yet the soon-to-be-80 director was having trouble getting a new film off the ground. Thankfully, after years of attempting to secure backing, Leigh’s first project since 2018’s Peterloo is going to get underway this year.

THR reports the film, which will be distributed by Bleecker Street in the U.S., is being funded by Film4, Ingenious, and The Mediapro Studio, with StudioCanal holding U.K. rights. As for what Leigh may explore in his next feature or the potential cast: all of that is currently being kept under wraps.

Leigh did tell Variety last year about his hopes and hinted it would not be a period piece like his previous two films, Mr. Turner and Peterloo: “Now, what I’ve never done, and what I desperately want to do, is to get the interest for that kind of [bigger] budget, but to make an exploratory contemporary film without saying what it is. That’s my chief source of frustration. With quite a sizable budget, I could do something really interesting on a bigger scale.”

“It’s always been a bit of a struggle, but there’s a lot more reluctance and resistance for backers to take that on board now,” he said, referring to the extensive process of collaboration and development with the group of actors he casts. “If there’s ever been any pressure of anybody that I may be involved in a movie that I’m going to make interfering in any way, I walk away,” Leigh says. “My late producer, Simon Channing Williams, would come back from meetings with potential backers, and he’d say, ‘They don’t mind that there’s no script, they don’t care that they don’t know what it’s about, but they will insist on a name,’ by which he meant an American movie star. And I’d say, ‘We have to walk away. … Any compromise is not worth it.’ So I’ve never done that, and therefore wound up making films with never enough money.”

We’re certainly glad Leigh is getting back to work and as we await more details, check out Q&As from last summer’s Film at Lincoln Center retrospective below.

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