'Belfast'
Source: Focus Features

'Belfast' Is a Semi-Autobiographical Film About Kenneth Branagh's Upbringing

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Sep. 3 2021, Published 5:22 p.m. ET

Actor, writer, and director Kenneth Branagh has worked on a multitude of different types of films over the years, but his latest project might be his most personal yet. The 60-year-old Academy Award nominee wrote and directed Belfast, a period piece about a young boy growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

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A trailer for the star-studded drama, which is debuting at the Telluride Film Festival, came out in early September 2021 — but some viewers aren't sure what to make of the plot. Read on to find out everything we know about the premise of the movie, and to learn who the cast members are playing.

'Belfast'
Source: Focus Features
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What is the movie, 'Belfast,' about? Details on the plot.

The film is told from the perspective of a young boy named Buddy (Jude Hill), who is based on Kenneth himself.

Belfast begins in 1969, when Buddy is 9 years old. He's part of a tight-knit family, which includes his dad (Jamie Dornan), his mom (Caitriona Balfe), and his grandparents (Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds), who all live in the capital city in Northern Ireland.

While Buddy initially has an idyllic childhood — he enjoys seeing movies, playing outside, and spending time with his family — things begin to change when the Troubles commence. The conflict is between his Protestant and Catholic neighbors about, in part, whether Northern Ireland should remain with the United Kingdom or not.

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As Buddy's family goes into lockdown due to the ongoing violence, they have to decide whether to stay in their beloved city or leave their home for a chance at a different type of life.

The trailer does not explicitly mention whether Buddy and his family members are Protestant, though it is hinted at. Kenneth himself was raised Protestant, and his family moved to Reading, England when he was 9 years old in 1969.

'Belfast'
Source: Focus Features
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When is the 'Belfast' release date?

Though the film is premiering at the Telluride Film Festival and will later be shown at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2021, Belfast will not be widely released until Nov. 12, 2021. The drama will initially only come out in theaters, but it remains to be seen if it will head to a streaming platform thereafter.

Kenneth wrote Belfast at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Filming took place in the summer of that year.

While speaking with film students at the QFT at the Belfast Media Festival, Kenneth shared that movie was "very personal" to him.

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"It's a very personal film, set partly in Belfast and partly elsewhere, partly set in the past and partly set in the present," he said, per BelfastLive. "I hope that there is humor, and I hope that it's emotional. It's a look at a people and a place in tumult through the eyes of a 9-year-old movie-mad kid."

He also discussed how the film reflects his own upbringing.

"My experience of Belfast when I was growing up was to be part of a larger extended family, one that lived nearby each other, in a world in terms of television that had three channels in black and white," he added. "We listened to radio extensively, listened to records extensively and we went to see films extensively and when we weren't doing that, we visited each other."

Until Belfast does come out in theaters in November, you can check out the trailer.

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