Belfast premiere: On the red carpet with Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Caitríona Balfe, Laura McDonnell and Jude Hill at London Film Festival 2021
Belfast, legend-of-stage-and-screen Sir Kenneth Branagh’s most personal film to date, is a coming-of-age tale taking the viewer on a nostalgic yet nightmarish journey through the period of the troubles in late 1960s Northern Ireland following young Buddy (played by newcomer Jude Hill).
We joined the director and his all-star cast, including Dame Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Jamie Dornan and Caitríona Balfe, Laura McDonnell and Hill, on the red carpet at the BFI London Film Festival 2021.
Branagh explained why he wanted to make the film and what it is about for him: “There’s a mixture of the pains and the joys of family life…even when it’s under threat and how sometimes – this is a very Belfast thing – how gallows humour at times of extreme difficulty can be necessary to allow us to sort of put one foot in front of the other.”
Meanwhile, Dench, who played Buddy’s grandmother, shared what it was like to be directed by Branagh and to continue working through the pandemic: “It was just like a family from the very very beginning. And of course we were in a moment that people weren’t going out, weren’t going to work and we got this little space. And Ken made it his business to take incredible care of everybody.”
Dornan, who plays Buddy’s father, told us about working with Branagh and his fellow cast and what he hopes people will take away from the film: “I just hope people get a good understanding of people from Belfast and what they’ve been through and the resilience and humor of the people that come from there.”
Hinds gave us some insight into playing Buddy’s grandfather including what he brought from his own life to the part, what it was like working opposite Dench plus what he loved about Branagh’s script: “It’s so truthful, it’s so real, it’s a real memory of real things of real times, of innocence, of joy smothered by a big dark cloud of sectarianism. And that idea of a homage to his home – I wanted to be a part of that.”
Balfe spoke passionately about how she prepared to play the role of Buddy’s mother: “I just watched a ton of footage from that time. And there’s so much online of those exact streets, of that exact moment when those barricades were going up. And I found so many interviews with the women of that time and that’s what really broke me…I got so emotional because you just realize how many lives were destroyed by it and these women were left to pick up the pieces when they lost either their sons or their husbands or their fathers. That really resonated with me and I wanted to do justice to all these amazing women from the north who have struggled and suffered for so many years.”
Young Hill told us about his character of Buddy and what it was like working with his fellow cast: “I was a little bit intimidated whenever I first got [the role] but then whenever I met them – they’re just such nice chill people that you can have a few jokes with and just chill with. So yeah, they’re basically my family.”
And finally McDonnell spoke about her role and what she hopes audiences will take from watching the movie: “I really hope that people take away just the importance of family and community and coming together, especially in the time that we are in.”
Videos: Filippo L’Astorina
Belfast is released nationwide on 22nd February 2022.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Belfast here: