- Writer-director Kenneth Branagh has begun filming in the London area the independently financed, semiautobiographical period drama Belfast. The cast includes Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, and Caitriona Balfe.
- Branagh’s Belfast movie is the latest in a series of big- and small-screen releases revolving around The Troubles, which plagued Northern Ireland for more than three decades.
Belfast movie: Kenneth Branagh begins shooting his ‘most personal film’ with Judi Dench + Jamie Dornan
Academy Award-nominated multitasker Kenneth Branagh has started filming his Belfast movie – Branagh is both writer and director – in the London area. Production is expected to move to the Northern Irish capital in the near future.
Inspired by the filmmaker’s own experiences, the independently financed coming-of-age drama is set at the beginning of The Troubles, in the pre-European Union (and pre-Brexit) Northern Ireland of the late 1960s, when two warring tribal factions – the protestant, pro-British unionists (supported by the British government/military) and the Catholic, pro-Irish nationalists – wreaked havoc in that part of the world. In 1972 alone, nearly 500 people, a majority of them civilians, lost their lives.
As found in Screen Daily, Branagh – whose credits include Henry V, Peter’s Friends, Hamlet, Thor, and Murder on the Orient Express – has called Belfast “my most personal film.”
Belfast movie cast
Key Belfast movie cast members include:
- Jude Hill as the Branagh-based boy.
- Belfast-born Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey & sequels) and Dublin-born Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall in the long-running Outlander TV series) as the boy’s parents.
- Veteran Ciarán Hinds (Excalibur, Munich) in a supporting role.
- Oscar winner Judi Dench (Best Supporting Actress for Shakespeare in Love, 1998), who’ll be turning 86 next Dec. 9, as the boy’s grandmother.
‘The Troubles’ movies
Among past movies about or set during The Troubles are:
- Screenwriter-director Neil Jordan’s Oscar-nominated political/psychological drama The Crying Game (1992), centered on the uncommon relationship that develops between an IRA terrorist and a British soldier. In the cast: Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Forest Whitaker, and Jaye Davidson.
- Jim Sheridan’s Oscar-nominated father-son melodrama In the Name of the Father (1993), inspired by real-life events and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Kenneth Branagh’s ex-wife Emma Thompson, and Pete Postlethwaite.
- Screenwriter-director Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday (2002), about the 1972 British massacre of unarmed Irish civil rights protesters. In the cast: James Nesbitt, Allan Gildea, and Tim Pigott-Smith.
- Pete Travis’ made-for-TV Omagh (2004), set in the aftermath of the 1998 IRA bombing that killed 29 people. In the cast: Gerard McSorley, Michèle Forbes, and Brenda Fricker. Paul Greengrass co-wrote the screenplay with Guy Hibbert.
COVID-19 still raging
No specifics have been provided about how the Belfast movie production is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last 72 hours, the United Kingdom has reported nearly 8,500 new cases.
In recent weeks, shooting has resumed on a handful of major international productions, including Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix 4, Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World: Dominion, and James Cameron’s Avatar 2/Avatar 3 combo.
In the U.K., filming of Matt Reeves’ The Batman restarted several days ago only to be halted once again after it was revealed that star Robert Pattinson had tested positive for COVID-19.
Filming of Belfast should come to a close at the end of September. The movie is expected to come out in 2021.
“Belfast Movie: Kenneth Branagh” notes
Kenneth Branagh Oscar nominations
 Kenneth Branagh has been shortlisted for five Academy Awards in various categories:
- Best Actor and Best Director, Henry V (1989).
- Best Live Action Short Film, Swan Song (1992), which Branagh directed.
- Best Adapted Screenplay, Hamlet (1996).
- Best Supporting Actor, My Week with Marilyn (2011).
“Belfast Movie” endnotes
Kenneth Branagh Murder on the Orient Express movie image: 20th Century Fox.
“Belfast Movie: Kenneth Branagh Shooting ‘Most Personal Film”” last updated in July 2021.