Branagh's 'Belfast' gets a UK premiere as Oscar buzz grows
Kenneth Branagh, actor and filmmaker, brings audiences to the city of his birth and childhood with the semi-autobiographical comedy drama "Belfast," which received its European premiere at the London Film Festival on Tuesday.
The mainly black-and-white film stars nine-year-old Buddy and his family, who live in a working-class neighborhood of North Belfast, where Protestants and Catholics live side-by-side.
Bobby's carefree childhood days come to an abrupt end when riots break out on his doorstep, and money and health concerns threaten the tranquil family life inside. Bobby was raised in a loving family environment until the late 1970s, when Northern Ireland'' three decades of conflict, known as "the Troubles", began.
Branagh told Reuters on the red carpet that reliving the memories while making and marketing the film "was and is very emotional". "It's a story that happened to me really when I was about nine years old and it changed my life forever when he affected my identity and my home and family and this is the story of that change," Branaugh said.
Belfast is all Buddy knows, and to his horror, his parents, played by Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe, begin to contemplate a new start abroad. The grandparents, played by Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, help maintain a sense of normalcy as his life is turned upside down.
"I know what that means, to put family first," he said. Dornan, who grew up on the edge of Belfast, said that his whole life, and his family, have been my priority.
"Belfast" has quickly established itself as an Oscar frontrunner after winning the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
"At the moment, we're so pleased that the film looks like it might reach an audience, that it's punching above its weight," Branagh, 60, said when asked about the Oscar buzz.
"Finding an audience is the most important thing... Anything under that is a dazzling piece of fairy dust."
"Belfast" will be released in U.S. cinemas on Nov. 12th.