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MIKE LEIGH was born in 1943 in Salford, Lancashire. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, at Camberwell and Central Art Schools, and at the London Film School.

His first feature film, "Bleak Moments" (1971), won the top prizes at the Chicago and Locarno Film Festivals. This was followed by the full-length television films "Hard Labour" (1973), "Nuts in May" (1975), "The Kiss of Death" (1976), "Abigail's Party" (1977), "Who's Who" (1978), "Grown-Upst' (1980), "Home Sweet Home" (1982), "Meantime" (1983), and "Four Days in July" (1984), which was shot entirely on location in Belfast.

His feature films "High Hopes" (1988), "Life is Sweet" (1991), and "Naked" (1993) have been highly successful internationally, all winning numerous prestigious awards, including Leigh's Best Director award for "Naked" at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

In May 1996, Leigh took "Secrets and Lies" to the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or award (the Festival's highest honor) and the Best Actress award for Brenda Blethyn. "Secrets and Lies" went on to be Leigh's biggest commercial hit to date, grossing $50 million worldwide.

"Secrets and Lies" won many other awards, including a Golden Globe for Brenda Blethyn; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's awards for Best Picture, Director, and Actress; and three BAFTA awards, for Best British Film, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Following "Secrets and Lies," Leigh directed "Career Girls," which was shown at the Locarno and Edinburgh Film Festivals; and for which Katrin Cartlidge won the London EveninQ Standard Best Actress award.

Mike Leigh received the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema at the 1995 BAFTA Awards; and was awarded an OBE in 1993.

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