I had high hopes (of course) that Mike Leigh and Boris Johnson would be together on stage for last night’s London Film Festival Mayor’s Gala screening of Another Year. What would Mike come out with? What jokes would Boris crack? And what would their body language say?
In the event, they didn’t actually appear on stage at the same time. First Boris bounced on to the stage of the Odeon Leicester Square to deliver another of his inimitable warm-up acts.
Happy to have arrived on time (by bike, naturally) after a bout of “bone on bone, Cumberland wrestling” with his opposite number in the Treasury to secure funds for London, Boris delivered some typically bumbling patter about the city’s versatility as a filmmaking location (Battersea Power Station as the Batcave, City Hall in Harry Potter, and so on), gave a quick boost to the capital as the “greatest cultural metropolis on earth”, and left with a parting wish for Leigh: “May all your cuts be director’s cuts.”
It wasn’t, though, until he had fully exited (stage left) that Leigh came on stage. Revealing that this was his 13th film to show at the London Film Festival and his 49th year as a punter, Leigh introduced over 30 of Another Year’s cast and crew on stage, including leading actors Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville, who all returned after the screening for a Q&A with festival director Sandra Hebron.
So there was no onstage encounter for Boris and Mike (a sight similarly denied to the 34 cinemas up and down the country beaming the event as a simulcast). But the pair did pose together for photographers outside the Odeon auditorium. It’s a fascinating image. Note the mirroring of their clasped hands: Boris has his left hand over his right; Mike has right over left. What could it possibly mean?