5 June 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Kenneth Branagh's Oscar frontrunner Belfast makes Irish debut at Belfast Film Festival
08 Nov 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl, Lewis McAskie, Caitríona Balfe, Kenneth Branagh, Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, Patrick Kielty, and Michele Devlin.
Belfast Film Festival welcomed five-time Oscar nominated and multi-hyphenated creative Kenneth Branagh as he opened the 21st Belfast Film Festival with the Irish premiere of his critically acclaimed film, Belfast, at the ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall.

A number of the leading cast were in attendance at the red-carpet screening alongside writer/director Kenneth Branagh, including Irish actors Jamie Dornan, Caitríona Balfe, Ciarán Hinds, and 10-year old newcomer Jude Hill.

The award-winning film is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the social and political tumult of the late 1960s.

Belfast has received plaudits from the global film industry with the film most recently awarded the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival following its screening in September.

The TIFF Award is regarded as the best indicator in previous years for predicting the Best Picture nominees at the Oscars – with its nine previous winners going on to receive Academy Award nominations for Best Picture.

As such, the film’s distributor Focus Features has aligned its theatrical release schedule to follow the strategy of previous People Choice/Oscar successes such as Nomadland and Green Book. Belfast will release in the UK and Ireland on January 21, 2022.

Speaking about the Irish premiere, Belfast Film Festival Director, Michele Devlin said: “We couldn’t be prouder to have welcomed Kenneth Branagh and his brilliant new film to Belfast to open the 21st Belfast Film Festival. His lovingly-crafted homage to his hometown and its citizens perfectly encapsulates the theme of this year’s festival ‘bringing it all back home’. It is an honour to have Ken and the cast ‘back home’ to the city to celebrate the inspiring energy and heart that went into creating his ‘Oscar-tipped’ film.”

“After a turbulent year, and many months of movies on the small screen, it is so thrilling to be bringing audiences back to the big screen and to showcase local talent,” Devlin continued. “Year on year, we see exceptional filmmakers blossoming and producing world-class films. We are thrilled to be highlighting some of these filmmakers at this year’s festival and celebrate the very best of Irish film.”

With an overarching theme of “bringing it all back home,” Belfast Film Festival will this year screen and celebrate an esteemed group of Irish filmmakers including east Belfast native Stacey Gregg’s Here Before’; ‘Mandrake’ by Lynne Davison, and Northern Ireland’s first Irish language film, Doineann by Belfast-based Double Band Films.

BAFTA-winning director, Alison Millar will debut her newest documentary on the life and death of journalist Lyra McKee at the festival, which was made in partnership with Lyra’s family, friends and partner.

Bríd Brennan will join the festival line-up for an ‘in-conversation’ event, which will see the acclaimed actress received the Belfast Film Festival’s Réalta Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Film.

Belfast Film Festival runs from November 4th to November 13th.

Belfast releases in UK and Irish cinemas on January 21, 2022.

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