Belfast Film Festival and Northern Ireland Screen were honoured to welcome award-winning actor, writer and director, Kenneth Branagh as he opened the 21st Belfast Film Festival with the Irish Premiere of his newest work, ‘Belfast’ ahead of its release in UK and Irish cinemas on January 21 2022.

Stars including Jamie Dornan, Caitríona Balfe, Ciarán Hinds and 10-year old Jude Hill joined Branagh on the ‘Belfast’ red-carpet at the ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall.

The award-winning film is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the social and political tumult of the late 1960s.

‘Belfast’ has received plaudits from the global film industry and was awarded Toronto International Film Festival’s People Choice Award following its screening in September.

Director of Belfast Film Festival, Michele Devlin said:

“We couldn’t be prouder to have welcomed Kenneth Branagh and his brilliant new film to Belfast to open the 21st Belfast Film Festival. His lovingly-crafted homage to his hometown and it’s citizens perfectly encapsulates the theme of this year’s festival ‘bringing it all back home’. It is an honour to have Ken and the cast ‘back home’ to the city to celebrate the inspiring energy and heart that went into creating his ‘Oscar-tipped’ film.

“After a turbulent year, and many months of movies on the small screen, it is so thrilling to be bringing audiences back to the big screen and to showcase local talent. Year on year we see exceptional filmmakers blossoming and producing world-class films. We are thrilled to be highlighting some of these filmmakers at this year’s festival and celebrate the very best of Irish film.”

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to Universal Pictures, and our amazing sponsors for the event Birra Moretti, Jawbox Gin, Tayto Crips, Hastings Hotels, Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, Tourism NI, and Film Hub NI.

With an overarching theme of ‘bringing it all back home’, the festival will screen and celebrate an esteemed group of Irish filmmakers including east Belfast’s Stacey Gregg’s ‘Here Before’; ‘Mandrake’ by Lynne Davison and Northern Ireland’s first Irish language film, ‘Doineann’ by Belfast based Double Band Films.

BAFTA-winning director, Alison Millar will debut her newest documentary on the life and death of journalist Lyra McKee at the festival, which was made in partnership with Lyra’s family, friends and partner.

Bríd Brennan will join the festival line-up for an ‘in-conversation’ event which will see the acclaimed actress received the Belfast Film Festival’s Réalta Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Film.

Last night’s glamorous event is only the start of this year’s Belfast Film Festival which runs from 4-13 November.

Today we have Assemble in the Ulster Museum, Billy Boy in The Strand Arts Centre, The War Of The Roses introduced by composer David Newman in The Beanbag Cinema (SOLD OUT) and we welcome Phil Collins director of Bring Down the Walls to Queens Film Theatre. JOIN US!