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

Belfast, the latest film by acclaimed director Kenneth Branagh, and now winner of the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, will have its Irish premiere at this year’s Belfast Film Festival at ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall.

The award-winning film is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss as a boy’s childhood amid the social and political turmoil of the late 1960s. It stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds and introduces Jude Hill, 10 years old.

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

Bring it all home is the theme of 21st Belfast Film Festival which showcases a plethora of Irish talent with new films including a psychological thriller starring Andrea Riseborough, Here before written and directed by Stacey Gregg of East Belfast, and a special screening of the gripping occult tale Mandrake directed by Lisburn-born filmmaker Lynne Davison.

The Irish premiere of director Alison Millar’s documentary on the life of murdered journalist Lyra McKee will premiere at the festival. Examining the career and life of the young writer, as well as exploring the tragic incident that led to her death in 2019, Lyre was made with the participation of his family, friends and partner.

Belfast-based company Doubleband, best known for its documentaries, will launch its first Irish-language dramatic feature film Doineann (Storm) directed by Damian McCann, written by Aislinn Clarke and starring Bríd Brennan.

To mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland and the founding of the State of Northern Ireland, the festival will host a special hybrid live music / film archive event. By avoiding any thorny constitutional material, this event will bypass cliché representations of the North by bringing together hundreds of snippets of happier times over the past century. 100 years of happiness will take place at the Common Market and present a live performance from The Organanuts. This event is supported by Film Hub North with funding from the National Lottery on behalf of the BFI Film Audience Network.

Belfast Film Festival President and internationally renowned filmmaker Mark Cousins ​​will present one of his latest documentaries, The Storms by Jeremy Thomas, which examines 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.

Kenneth Branagh is scheduled to present his semi-autobiographical film ‘Belfast’ at ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall for its Irish premiere on the opening night of the Belfast Film Festival 2021.

I am fortunate to have attended film festivals around the world for this most personal film, but I have always hoped that we are invited to bring Belfast residence.

To be included as part of the Belfast Film Festival is a great honor for us. This year’s festival is packed with local talent across all areas of the industry, from acting to directing to production, and shows the phenomenal strength of the film industry here. It’s great to see our young actors, Jude Hill and Lewis McAskie appear in not one but two feature films at the Festival and demonstrate the depth of new acting talent. And I couldn’t be more delighted that Bríd Brennan received a special award; a very great actress and a beloved collaborator from the first days of my career.

Kenneth Branagh, writer / director – Belfast

The Belfast Film Festival is ‘bringing it all home’ this year with a well-deserved pinch of stardust, as we welcome home some of our best-known international filmmaking talents. The caliber of films screened is inspiring, showing that cinema is indeed making a comeback, and in particular, celebrating Irish film as it continues to thrive on the international circuit.

We are delighted to welcome the Irish premiere of Kenneth Branagh Belfast. A real moment of loop as the screenwriter and director returns to a city very different from that described in the film.

Since the tragic murder of Lyra McKee in 2019, director Alison Miller has worked alongside her loved ones to tell the story of Lyra, her friend. Alison’s film is both a painful and joyful tribute to the late journalist, a beautifully crafted testimony of a young woman, her untimely death, and her devastating impact. The film is edited by Chloé Lambourne (For Sama) with an original soundtrack by award-winning producer / composer David Holmes.

We are delighted to welcome many other local, new and experienced filmmakers including Bríd Brennan and Jim Sheridan who will join us in celebrating their impressive careers. We look forward to reuniting with the filmmakers and the public for 10 days of guests, lectures, music, films and conviviality in front of the big screen… we missed you.

Michele Devlin, festival director

We’re proud that this year’s festival features films by local directors Stacey Gregg, Mark Cousins, Damian McCann, Lynne Davison and Alison Millar and that their films are so diverse and varied in their themes and storytelling. The fact that the local directors are led by Kenneth Branagh, who is bringing his film ‘Belfast’ home to open the Belfast Film Festival at ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall, makes for a truly remarkable festival program, perfectly timed to bring back confidence and enthusiasm to the cinephile audience.

Richard Williams, Managing Director – Northern Ireland Screen

A host of special guests will participate in the festival in a series of events including;

  • Brid brennan will receive the Realta Award from the Belfast Film Festival for his outstanding contribution to cinema at an “in conversation” event covering his famous career.
  • Acclaimed Director, Jim sheridan from ‘My Left Foot’, ‘The Field’ and ‘In The Name of the Father’ will talk about his work, in conversation with Trevor Birney.
  • North Irish writer Helen O’Hara will be giving a public lecture on her new book, Women Vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film.
  • The creators of ‘H3’, Les Blair, Laurence McKeown, Juanita Wilson and James Flynn will join the festival for a panel discussion on the making of the film that depicts the H-Blocks in the midst of the 1981 crisis.
  • The Strand Arts Center, Digital Film Archive and Belfast Film Festival honor the work of the Spence Brothers, two film mavericks who have produced and directed over 50 years of cinema in Northern Ireland. Brian Henry Martin will talk to them about their careers. The tribute day will offer workshops, screenings and an exhibition.

The Belfast Film Festival is proudly sponsored by Birra Moretti, Hastings Hotels and supported by Northern Ireland Screen, Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, Tourism NI, NI Film Hub.

Film screenings and events will take place both online and at cinemas and venues across Belfast including Odeon Cinema, Queen’s Film Theater, The Strand Cinema and Common Market.


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Gerald R. Schneider

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