Between “Artemis Fowl” and the beleaguered, still-to-come “Death on the Nile,” Kenneth Branagh is coming off somewhat of an iffy run. Nominated for five Academy Awards, the “Henry V,” “Hamlet,” and “Murder on the Orient Express” filmmaker looks headed back in the right direction with “Belfast,” which he calls his most personal film yet. The film is set to world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend before screening at the Toronto International Film Festival later this month. Focus Features is releasing “Belfast” stateside on November 12 and into hopeful Oscar contention. Watch the trailer for the film below.
The drama follows a young boy (Jude Hill) growing up with swinging working-class parents (Jamie Dornan and Catriona Balfe) amid the social and cultural tumult of late-1960s Northern Ireland. Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds play his grandparents. Here’s the synopsis from TIFF:
In his three decades of filmmaking, Kenneth Branagh has ushered us into Henry V’s campaign at Agincourt, Thor’s celestial chambers on Asgard, and murderous intrigues aboard the Orient Express. Branagh’s latest work unfolds in a much more real-world and familiar setting for the prolific actor, writer, and director. Named after the city of his birth, Belfast is Branagh’s most personal — and most affecting — film yet.
A coming-of-age drama set during the tumult of late-1960s Northern Ireland, the film follows young Buddy (Jude Hill) as he navigates a landscape of working-class struggle, sweeping cultural changes, and sectarian violence. Buddy dreams of a glamorous future that will whisk him far from the Troubles, but, in the meantime, he finds consolation in his charismatic Pa (Jamie Dornan) and Ma (Caitríona Balfe), and his spry, tale-spinning grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench).
Its story rooted in blood ties, Belfast is also a family affair behind the scenes, as Branagh reunites with many long-time collaborators, such as production designer Jim Clay, director of photography Haris Zambarloukos, and editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle. Together they’ve crafted a film that is characteristically meticulous in its evocation of a particular place and time, while Branagh’s superb cast fill every scene with energy, idiosyncrasy, and heart.
Branagh shot the movie during the pandemic, beginning in September 2020 and wrapping up in October. He also wrote the film, which features cinematography from Haris Zambarloukos, who has shot most of Branagh’s recent films.