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Mike Leigh insists, "Nobody is boring," at Another Year press conference

Six-time Oscar nominated writer and director Mike Leigh appeared disgruntled and gruff at the start of Saturday morning's press conference following the premiere of his in competition film, Another Year. Leigh abrubtly refused to answer the first reporter's question, shouting: "I'm not taking any questions from you, and you know why!" The audience, seeming both taken aback and amused at this sudden outburst, became noticeably more alert.

Leigh and his cast, including Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, and Ruth Sheen, answered questions about the fear of growing old, the extraordinarity of being ordinary, and the celebration of life. 

 

Acknowledging the question of the second reporter, Leigh admits to the overwhelming sadness that plagues his film's characters. Though the film sheds light on humanity's universal fear of growing old, Another Year fails to offer any solution or remedy to this international phobia. "This film isn't about finding a solution," Leigh explained. "It's about how we come to terms with life, how we face ourselves." 

A female German reporter criticized Leigh's treatment of the single woman role (played by Lesley Manville) in his film, describing her as a helpless and miserable soul. "Why are the married couple the only happy ones?" Leigh refutes the reporter's generalization, explaining that this particular film "just happens to focus on a happily married couple and a struggling single woman." Leigh invites his audience to sympathize with Manville's character, or judge her if we so choose. Manville quipped, "I think there are enough films on unhappily married couples!" 

Lesley Manville responded to questions regarding how she managed to so poignantly portray an emotional wreck suffering from alcoholism. Manville admits that though she didn't have a particular routine for preparing herself, she often separated herself from the cast and crew in between her "drunk" scenes so that she could remain in a "drunk state of mind."

 

Leigh added, "Lesley is also just an incredible actor. That's why she can play drunk so impeccably well." Adding with a wry grin, "No doubt, she's also done lots of research."

Leigh warmed up to the crowd despite his fiery commencement, passionately elaborating on his film and general philosophies on life. When asked about the underlying message of Another Year, Leigh replied: "There is no message. It's about stimulating audiences to care about a whole range of things. A thing we call love."  

 

The film focuses on gray areas, emphasizing that there is nothing that is black or white in this world. Another Year exposes normal, ordinary people living difficult lives. Leigh invites us to enjoy life, to celebrate growing old. He insists: "Nobody is boring."

That's a bold statement. But thanks to Mike Leigh, we're starting to believe it.  

Lauren Ellison

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