The Film

Belfast is a 2021 British coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. The film stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, and newcomer Jude Hill.

The film, which Branagh has described as his 'most personal film', follows a young boy's childhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the beginning of The Troubles in 1969.

Belfast received praise from critics for Branagh's direction and screenplay, cinematography and the performances of the cast.


Kenneth Branagh started working on the film in March 2020. In July 2020, Branagh announced that he would write and direct the film. In September 2020, Judi Dench, Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds and Jude Hill joined the cast.

Principal photography began in September 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming initially took place in and around London, before moving to Belfast. The entire film was shot in seven weeks, and production concluded by October 2020. The film was predominantly shot in black and white.

Belfast features music by Belfast native Van Morrison, including the score he composed, dominated by electric guitar and saxophone, eight of his classic songs, and a new song he wrote for the film, 'Down to Joy'.


Belfast had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on 2nd September 2021, where it became the festival's most often-screened film of that year. It also screened at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival on 12th September 2021, where it won the People's Choice Award.

By the end of its run, it was screened at film festivals in Chicago, Hamburg, London, Middleburg, Mill Valley, Philadelphia, San Diego and Vancouver. It held its Los Angeles premiere at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on 8th November 2021.

The film was released on 12th November 2021 through Focus Features in the United States, and on 21st January 2022 in Ireland and the United Kingdom through Universal Pictures


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86%. The website's critics consensus reads: 'A deeply personal project for writer-director Kenneth Branagh, Belfast transcends its narrative deficits with powerful performances and directorial craft.' On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while 79% of filmgoers at PostTrak said they would definitely recommend it.

Reviewing the film, Kevin Maher of The Times gave it 5/5 stars and wrote: "It's a film of formal beauty, letter-perfect performances, complex and textured writing (also from Branagh) and enough comedic one-lines and Van Morrison musical montages to make you forget that you are watching a drama about seething sectarian hatreds".

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian also gave the film 5/5 stars and addressed it as "a seductive piece of myth-making from Branagh". Writing for TheWrap, Steve Pond praised the performances of Dornan and Balfe, and said: "The film feels true in the way it must be exploring Branagh's memories of a tumultuous and confusing time, and the way it pays tribute to a vibrant community as that community is irrevocably changed." Stephanie Zacharek of Time said that it was hard to resist the film's affectionate energy.


At the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, Belfast won the People's Choice Award. At the Middleburg Film Festival, it won the Best Narrative Feature award. Kenneth Branagh won for Best Screenplay at the 79th Golden Globe Awards. The film won the Outstanding British Film Award at the 75th BAFTA Awards.

At the 94th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Actor in a Supporting Role (for Hinds) and Actress in a Supporting Role (for Dench). At the age of 87, Judi Dench became the second oldest nominee in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her performance, after Gloria Stuart was nominated in the same category for her role in Titanic (1997). Branagh became the first individual to have been nominated in a total of seven different categories with his nominations in the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay categories for his work on the film.



Jude Hill as Buddy
Caitríona Balfe as "Ma", Buddy's mother
Jamie Dornan as "Pa", Buddy's father
Judi Dench as "Granny", Buddy's grandmother
Ciarán Hinds as "Pop", Buddy's grandfather
Lewis McAskie as Will, Buddy's older brother
Colin Morgan as Billy Clanton
Lara McDonnell as Moira
Olive Tennant as Catherine
Gerard Horan as Mackie
Josie Walker as Aunt Violet
Turlough Convery as Minister
Vanessa Ifediora as Miss Lewis
Conor MacNeill as McLaury
Drew Dillon as Mr Kavanagh
Victor Alli as Soldier
Gerard McCarthy as Bobby Frank
John Sessions as Joseph Tomelty playing Jacob Marley