Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo’ Sets London Film Festival First With Manchester Premiere

Simon Mein/Courtesy of Cornerstone Films

Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo” is set to have its U.K. premiere as part of the BFI London Film Festival, but in an unusual move, the Oct. 17 gala screening will take place in the city of Manchester, where the film’s events take place, rather than in London. It will be the first time one of the festival’s premieres has taken place outside the British capital.

Leigh said he was “truly delighted” about the decision to screen the film in Manchester, in northern England, where the film’s events take place. The announcement Thursday fell on the 199th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre depicted in the movie.

“It’s always an honor to be included in the glorious London Film Festival, but how inspired and generous of the festival to screen ‘Peterloo’ in Manchester, where it all happened,” said Leigh.

Written and directed by Leigh, the film depicts the events surrounding the Aug. 16, 1819, massacre, which saw a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St. Peter’s Field turn into one of the most notorious episodes in modern British political history. Cavalrymen charged into a crowd of more than 60,000 people protesting rising levels of poverty and demanding political reform. Many protesters were injured and killed, sparking a nationwide outcry but also further government suppression.

Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell, Philip Jackson, Vincent Franklin, Karl Johnson and Tim McInnerny star in the film, which will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 1. It is distributed by Amazon Studios in the U.S. and by eOne in the U.K., where it is scheduled for release Nov. 2.

Moviegoers in London and other locations around Britain will be able to watch the premiere, along with audiences at Manchester’s independent HOME cinema, via a live simulcast. Leigh and members of the cast will be in attendance in Manchester and participate in a Q&A. A second festival screening will take place in London on Oct. 19, following by a Q&A with Leigh.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting the U.K. premiere of Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo,’ and to be a part of the BFI London Film Festival, marking the first time the festival has held a premiere outside London,” said Jason Wood, artistic director of film at HOME. “It is fitting that Manchester audiences will be amongst the first to see this highly anticipated film which focusses on a pivotal event in our city’s and our nation’s political history.”

“Peterloo” is produced by Georgina Lowe for Thin Man Films. Gail Egan serves as executive producer. It is co-financed by Amazon Studios, with additional backing from Film4, the BFI, and Lipsync. International sales are handled by Cornerstone Films.

The 62nd BFI London Film Festival runs Oct. 10-21. As previously announced, it will open with the European premiere of Steve McQueen’s “Widows” and close with the world premiere of Laurel and Hardy biopic “Stan & Ollie.” The full program will be announced Aug. 30.