Mike Leigh taps positive energy in his new 'Happy-Go-Lucky' movie

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BERLIN (AP) -- Mike Leigh is celebrating the power of positive thinking in his new movie, "Happy-Go-Lucky," which debuted Tuesday at the Berlin film festival.

The film focuses on the life of London teacher Poppy (played by Sally Hawkins), a character who, the director said, is "special ... in a sense that she has this positive energy."

Leigh said he wanted to counter a trend toward pessimism and show that "there are in the world people being -- despite everything that's happening -- people being positive and getting on with it."

"It is important that we confront ourselves with the realities of the life and with the negatives ... but it's equally important that we take life and celebrate it where and how we can," he said at a news conference.

"Happy-Go-Lucky," one of 21 movies competing for the top Golden Bear award at the annual Berlin festival, is Leigh's first film since 2004's "Vera Drake," which received three Oscar nominations, including best director for Leigh.

Leigh, 64, said he tried to be "as interesting and as different as I can from film to film" -- but pointed to similarities between the central character and Vera Drake, the woman performing illegal abortions in the 1950s at the center of his last movie.

"Each of them is a positive woman who takes a positive look at things, is disposed to be sharing and helpful," he said.

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