The new film is “a love letter” to British pubs, an institution under threat | Ads
They are the lifeblood of many communities, but tens of thousands of pubs and breweries across Britain have closed since the 1970s, and thousands more have fallen victim to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions . Now, top British filmmakers have taken inspiration from the near loss of their own community pubs to produce a feature film they describe as “a love letter to family, community, real ale and Britain’s forgotten rural traditions”.
Writer-directors Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft – who made Fisherman’s Friendsone of the most successful British independent films of the last decade – are about to start filming the uplifting story, which also explores serious issues, from the disappearing pub trade to mental health.
Title mother’s prideit’s a comedy-drama about a failing pub, a divided community and a grieving family whose lives are changed by brewing real ale and competing in the Great British Beer Awards.
Moorcroft said: “Pubs are really important for communities, bringing people together, which is particularly relevant with Covid as it tackles loneliness and social isolation. But on our scouting, we were visiting pubs that had been empty for two years – and would never be pubs again. Each is steeped in history and memories. It’s truly sad.”
Leonard said the losses were “particularly resonant when we all lack human connection” because of Covid: “That’s why our film feels important to do now.”
Filming begins in May in a Somerset village pub. James Spring, the film’s producer, said: ‘Someone very valiantly tried to get it going for a number of years, then when Covid and the lockdown hit, it was time to call it a day.
Noting that some of the lost pubs had survived for hundreds of years until recently, he added: “With lockdown, for a business that was tough anyway, it was the final nail in the coffin for a lot of people. ‘between them.”
The filmmakers have experience in their respective communities of pub closures and local people coming together to save those pubs.
Leonard recalled her childhood memories of the Shoemakers Arms in the Brecon Beacons National Park, an 1800s cottage once occupied by a shoemaker before becoming a tavern, and where she recalls horses tied outside “to get around drinking and driving”.
“I grew up in a farming community in the mountains of mid Wales, very rural and isolated. This pub was very important as a watering hole. There was nowhere else for people to go. meet, unless it’s a chapel. The sanity of the community is served by people who are able to come together. It was a lifeline. When it was faced with the closure, the community came together and bought the pub,” she said.
Moorcroft grew up in rural Essex where one of the local pubs was the Compasses, Littley Green, whose future was secured after it was bought from a chain of pubs by members of a brewing family who were formerly owners.
Industry figures vary, but more than 11,000 pubs closed between 2012 and 2021, according to AlixPartners CGA Market Recovery Monitor.
Tom Stainer, chief executive of Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said the pubs were crying out for government support and their loss to communities was “immeasurable”. “A local can increase your number of friends, your well-being, your happiness and your sanity. Once a pub closes, you lose all of that. There are large housing estates that have no common space,” he said.
Moorcroft said: “This is a seriously threatened industry. The government must help them. The film is a call to arms.
The filmmakers have an impressive track record. Fisherman’s Friendsbased on the true story of Cornish singing fishermen who signed a record deal, achieved worldwide success and inspired a sequel, Friends of the fisherman: one and all, which will be released in theaters this year. Their other hits include find your feet, a romantic comedy that inspired a French remake. The same filmmakers are also set to produce a biopic about Levi Roots, who found fame and fortune after securing an investment for his Reggae Reggae Sauce on Dragons’ Den.