Irish premiere of Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast to headline 21st Belfast Film Festival

05th October 2021 3 Minute Read

Belfast, the latest film from acclaimed director Kenneth Branagh, and now the Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award winner, will have its Irish première at this year’s Belfast Film Festival at The ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall.

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. It stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds and introduces 10-year-old Jude Hill.

The special event, which opens the 21st Belfast Film Festival on the 4th November, will be introduced by Branagh himself and attended by some of the film’s A-list cast in what will be a glittering homecoming night for the film. Tickets for ‘Belfast’ will go on sale on Friday 8th October at 10 am.

Bringing It All Back Home is the theme of the 21st Belfast Film Festival which features a plethora of Irish talent with new films including a psychological thriller starring Andrea Riseborough, Here Before written and directed by east Belfast’s Stacey Gregg, and a special screening of the gripping occult tale Mandrake directed by Lisburn-born filmmaker Lynne Davison.

The Irish première of filmmaker Alison Millar’s documentary on the life of murdered journalist Lyra McKee will première at the festival. Looking at the career and life of the young writer, as well as exploring the tragic incident that resulted in her death in 2019, Lyra was made with the involvement of her family, friends and partner.

Belfast based company Doubleband, better known for documentaries, will debut their first Irish language feature drama Doineann (Storm) directed by Damian McCann, written by Aislinn Clarke and starring Bríd Brennan.

To mark the 100 year point since the partition of Ireland and the establishment of the Northern Irish state, the festival will host a special hybrid live music / film archive event.  Steering clear of thorny constitutional material, this event will bypass clichéd representations of the North by collating hundreds of clips of happier times during the past century. 100 Years of Happiness will take place at the Common Market and feature a live performance from The Organanuts. This event is supported by Film Hub North with National Lottery funding on behalf of the BFI Film Audience Network.

Belfast Film Festival Chair and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mark Cousins will screen one of his latest documentaries, The Storms of Jeremy Thomas, which takes an in-depth look at the illustrious career of Oscar-winning producer (‘The Last Emperor’ 1988) Jeremy Thomas, through a road trip Cousins and Thomas take from London to Cannes.

All details of screenings can be found at the Belfast Film Festival website

I am fortunate to have attended film festivals throughout the world for this most personal of films, but it was always my hope that we might be invited to bring Belfast home.

To be included as a part of the Belfast Film Festival is a great honour for us. This year’s festival is packed with local talent in all areas of the industry from acting and directing to producing, and shows the phenomenal strength of the film industry here. It is great to see our young actors, Jude Hill and Lewis McAskie appearing in not one but two feature films in the Festival and demonstrates the depth of new acting talent. And I couldn’t be more delighted for Bríd Brennan receiving a special award; a truly great actress, and a cherished collaborator from the earliest days of my career.

Sir Kenneth Branagh, Writer/Director – Belfast

We are brimming with pride that this year’s festival includes films from local directors Stacey Gregg, Mark Cousins, Damian McCann, Lynne Davison, and Alison Millar and that their films are so diverse and wide-ranging in their themes and storytelling. That the local directors are being led by Kenneth Branagh, who brings his film ‘Belfast’ back home to open the Belfast Film Festival at the ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall, makes this a truly remarkable festival programme timed perfectly to bring confidence and enthusiasm back to the cinema-going public.

Richard Williams, Chief Executive – Northern Ireland Screen


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