BERLIN (AFP) - British director Mike Leigh will chair the jury of next years 62nd Berlin film festival, one of Europes top cinema showcases, organisers said Friday. The 68-year-old veteran film-maker, a master of bittersweet realism in hits such as Secrets and Lies and Happy-Go-Lucky, will lead a panel vetting contenders from around the world for the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes. Over the course of his nearly 40-year film career, Mike Leigh has distinguished himself as one of the most outstanding film-makers of auteur cinema and protagonists of New British Cinema, the festival said in a statement. Leigh portrays British society in a bluntly realistic but humorous style. His films have received countless international awards and several Oscar nominations. Leigh, who is also a respected theatre director, dramatist and screenwriter and made more than 20 films, won the best director prize in Cannes in 1993 for Naked and its Palme dOr in 1996 for Secrets and Lies, which also picked up five Oscar nominations. In 2004 his gripping drama Vera Drake bagged the Golden Lion in Venice, while Happy-Go-Lucky claimed Berlins Silver Bear for best actress Sally Hawkins in 2008. Another Year in 2010, another Cannes contender, captured an Oscar nomination. The February 9-19 event ranks with Cannes and Venice among the top European film festivals. This year, a jury led by Italian-American actress Isabella Rossellini crowned the harrowing Iranian drama Nader and Simin: A Separation by Asghar Farhadi as best picture.