(AFP) – “Belfast”, favorite of the next Oscars shot in the midst of a pandemic, was inspired by another kind of “confinement”, that experienced as a child by Kenneth Branagh during the conflict in Northern Ireland, explained the director on Tuesday.
“I wanted to shake hands with this nine year old child and also try to understand what my parents had crossed “, explained Kenneth Branagh while presenting in Los Angeles this feature film all in black and white, which leaves Friday in the United States.
The shooting of” Belfast ” had started in August 2020, with daily Covid screening tests and a quasi-military organization to allow the various technicians to prepare the set away from the rest of the ‘team.
“During this pandemic, a lot of people made huge sacrifices. And I think that was the case with those people at that time as well. “Northern Irish + Troubles”, he continues.
The film “comes from this silence that many of us were confronted with at the start of the confinement, and which certainly referred me to this other confinement that we suffered when the two ends of our street were blocked “by barricades, underlines the British director.
The star actor behind the camera had moved to England with his family at the end of the years 1960 to escape the conflict between Protestants and Catholics which set Northern Ireland ablaze.
“Belfast” opens with a scene of street violence during the summer 1969, when Protestant militants attack Catholic families to drive them from these streets where the two communities had lived together for so long.
“I was 12 years in 1969 and I remember the excitement caused by this explosion. It wasn’t until the next day that I started to see the threat it posed, “says Ciaran Hinds, who grew up in Belfast like many other actors in the film.
“My childhood back then was the noise of this city at night, and the explosions in the distance reverberating off the hills of Belfast, or the gunshots at night,” he says.
These “troubles” were to plague this British province for the next thirty years, pitting one community against another along fault lines as much religious as nationalist.
– “Emotional liberation” –
The film is set against the backdrop of this violence and follows a young father (Jamie Dornan) who leaves his body defending Belfast to give his family a brighter future.
But his wife (Caitriona Balfe) and young boy Buddy (Jude Hill) want to stay in the neighborhood where they have their roots and their friends.
The film mixes humor and emotions, for example during family scenes where Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench are illustrated, who play Buddy’s grandparents and have been praised by critics.
“I think it’s linked to the fact that we may not have completely got back on our feet after what we went through” during the pandemic, says Kenneth Branagh to explain this enthusiasm of the first spectators. “Maybe we need some kind of emotional release, and stories always help with that,” he says.
“Belfast” is luck for the actor-director, 35 years old, to win the first Oscar of his multiple careers, after already five nominations.
He was first selected in 1990 as an actor and director for “Henry V”. A few years later, he was again in the running for the short film “Swan Song” and again for his adaptation of “Hamlet”.
Branagh had lost his Irish accent during childhood because he “didn’t want to be noticed” in England and he now realizes that the theater and the cinema are a way for him to reconnect with his roots.
“I certainly got lost for quite a while, I think. It took me a while to find my way home, and with this movie I got there,” Branagh says.