Mike LeighA new film by prolific English director, Mike Leigh (Topsy Turvey, Secrets & Lies) is cause for celebration and luckily for those not quick enough on the draw to purchase advance tickets to his newest, Vera Drake, at the New York Film Festival, it also opens theatrically this weekend.

Like his previous pictures which illuminate the mundane details of working class life in Britain, Vera Drake chooses a seemingly ordinary woman to portray. Played by Imelda Staunton, Vera lives in post-war Britain, works as a cleaning woman, cares for her family and performs illegal abortions. When one such operation goes awry, the authorities arrest sweet Vera to make her an example for the rest of the community.

With Leigh's famous workshopping and improvising directing style (apparently this time around, none of the cast knew Vera would be arrested until the actors playing cops burst into the scene), he always brings nuanced and natural performances from the best of England's actors. Even though abortion continues to be a heated topic 50 odd years later, you know that a Mike Leigh movie on the subject will bring a deft touch to the discussion.

Author, critic and NYFF Selection Committee member, Philip Lopate will host a discussion with Mike Leigh as a part of the film festival's special events on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 4 pm in the Kaplan Penthouse in the Rose Building. Vera Drake screens at the festival tonight at 9 pm and Saturday at noon. It opens on Oct. 10 in New York and Oct. 22 in additional other cities.