The Fan Carpet’s Ludovica Credendino spoke to Peter Mullan at the Edinburgh International Film Festival Premiere of Tommy’s Honour
The 70th edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival kicked off in the most typically Scottish of conditions: a grey, rainy evening. But the weather didn’t stop fans and cinephiles from patiently waiting for the arrival of their idols outside the Festival Theatre.
Jason Connery’s fifth feature film, Tommy’s Honour, opened the festival bringing on the red carpet big names such as Peter Mullan and Connery himself, alongside young raising star Jack Lowden and other Scottish talents such as Therese Bradley and Paul Tinto. Before the cast made its appearance, Artistic Director Mark Adams briefly explained what makes the EIFF so special and successful. “Festivals change because of the product you get to show. You can never quite define a festival because it defines itself as you select the films. The greatest calling card we have is Edinburgh is the place it is. We’ve got a castle, we’ve got history, we’ve got whisky! People want to come here and they have such a great time that they want to come back. They want to bring their films here, they want to be out in the city.”
As the actors and director entered the foyer of the Festival Theatre, they revealed what makes Tommy’s Honour one of the highlights of this year’s edition of the festival. Shot across over 50 Scottish locations with a predominantly Scottish crew and actors, the film tells the story of Old Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) and Young Tommy (Jack Lowden), father and son from St Andrews who both went on to win the Open Championship four times in the 19th century. When actor/director Jason Connery started working on it, he couldn’t believe that the Morris’ story had never been turned into a film before. The actors seemed to agree that these characters deserved to be brought back.
“I was down in Melbourne three weeks ago and there was a lane just outside the city called the Old Tom Morris Lane, which was a big surprise. Worldwide he’s probably better known that he is in Scotland. It’s a cultural and a political issue. We’re not as familiar with our history as we should be” said Mullan. Young actor Paul Tinto (James Hunter in the film) added “When I read the script I thought there was an amazing story in there, one that wasn’t very well known. I didn’t know that much about Tom and Tommy Morris before we started and I think it’s great to bring these characters’ stories back and to the Edinburgh Film Festival.”
Mullan then gave The Fan Carpet’s Ludovica Credendino further details about the two main characters and their contrasting personalities “Old Tom was old school and believed that you had to respect the upper class and do as you were told. Young Tom was a rebel. He was a century before his time. He was incredibly talented and he knew it and he used that to break through the class barriers.”
And as Jack Lowden made his first ever appearance at a film festival, he revealed what was like to work with one of the best actors Scotland has produced “He [Mullan] is such a lovely soul. That’s what he is. He’s got such a heart and he’s got a lot of time for young actors. To be in the film with him was an incredible experience”. He also briefly talked about his future plans, that see him acting in Christopher Nolan’s new film, Dunkirk, alongside big names such as Tom Hardy and Harry Styles.
Despite the lack of female characters, the historical importance of women and their role in the making of this specific film was drawn to attention by Glaswegian actress Therese Bradley (Nancy, Young Tommy’s mother, in the film).
“Trying to get away from my hotel I met all these wee Scottish women who were fantastic. Having spent so much time with all these matriarchs in their seventies and eighties was such a good thing for the film. They told me loads of lovely stories about Fife and Edinburgh. I also drew in a lot from watching how different generations influence each other. Young people have to keep educating the older generations. I love this story because it’s about a young boy teaching his mum ‘no, you don’t do as you’re told and you don’t buckle down and you deserve justice’”.
Just as the first ever screening of Tommy’s Honour was about to start, Jason Connery took a few minutes to talk to The Fan Carpet about what it’s like to make a film and how shooting his latest film differed from his previous works “All films in a way are a new challenge. I feel like I’m a storyteller, so I draw myself into that particular story. I didn’t know that much about Mixed Martial Arts before shooting The Philly Kid, but I drew myself into that world and learned a lot about it. It’s always a challenge. I knew a bit more about golf and I’m a father and of course I’m a son to my dad, so in that sense the theme was there. But every new film is a challenge and that’s what makes it wonderful to be involved in it. It was incredibly important to me that this story was told in the right way and luckily the producers thought the same way.”
By the time cast, crew, journalists and spectators walked into the theatre, the weather outside seemed to have improved slightly. Maybe this can be considered a good sign for the events that will follow the opening ceremony. This year’s programme includes films from all over the world, raging from retrospectives to animations, 70mm and short films shot across 49 countries. A travel around the world and across time that will conclude with another unmissable Scottish production, Whisky Galore!. The festival will be running until the 26th of June and will give viewers the chance not just to virtually travel to new countries, but also to explore different genres. A chance that hopefully will be unanimously embraced.
Written by Ludovica Credendino