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Mike Leigh will walk down Peter von Bagh Street

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- The British director will be among the guests of honour at the Midnight Sun Film Festival during its 30th edition and the first one after its co-founder and director died last year

Mike Leigh will walk down Peter von Bagh Street
British Director Mike Leigh

UK director Mike Leigh will lead the international contingent of honoured guests at Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival, which will unspool its 30th showcase between 10 and 14 June in Sodankylä – a village with 8,809 inhabitants and 35,000 reindeer, located 129 km north of the Arctic Circle. 

Leigh, who is currently preparing his 13th feature, Peterloo – based on the 1819 massacre in Manchester, where British forces fired on a peaceful pro-democracy rally – most recently delivered Mr Turner [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Mike Leigh
film profile
]
, which last year won two prizes at Cannes and was nominated for four Oscars and four BAFTA Awards.

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This is the first edition of the gathering after festival co-founder and director Peter von Bagh died (on 17 September 2014), and Sodankylä named Peter von Bagh Street after him – the programme is now decided on by a committee comprising Finnish directors Aki and Mika Kaurismäki (also co-founders) and artistic director Timo Malmi. The local executive manager is Ari Lehtola.

In Sodankylä, Leigh will be joined by German director Christian Petzold – a leading figure in the Berlin School movement in the 1990s – whose two latest films, Phoenix [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
film focus
interview: Christian Petzold
film profile
]
(2014) and Barbara [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Christian Petzold
festival scope
film profile
]
(2012, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival), will both have their Finnish premieres at the festival.

In post-production with his Jane Austen-based romantic drama, Love and Friendship, US director Whit Stillman is also on the guest list, together with Mr Turner actress Marion Bailey, “one of the most original directors in Scandinavian cinema”, Denmark’s Nils Malmros, and French director Auberi Edler. The cluster of Finnish invitees includes actresses Minna Haapkylä, Armi Toivanen and Kirsti Wallaswaara, and directors Petri Kotwica, Anssi Mänttäri and Ville Suhonen.

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