Belfast is up for seven Oscars – but how has the film gone down in the city?

Entertainment

“It’s my first film,” explains Jude Hill, “and I got to work with all these amazing people.”

The 11-year-old actor, who plays Buddy in Sir Kenneth Branagh‘s Belfast, is taking Hollywood by storm – but he knows the city best placed to judge the movie.

“Everyone I’ve met loved the film and I just love hearing that coming from actual people from Belfast,” he tells Sky News. “It’s just that little, tiny bit of reassurance we all need that we’ve done it good.”

Director Kenneth Branagh (left) and actor Jude Hill (right) on the set of Belfast. Pic: Rob Youngson/Focus Features
Image:
Branagh and Hill pictured together on set. Pic: Rob Youngson/Focus Features

Jude, whose talent was first spotted by his speech and drama teacher Shelley Lowry, knew little of the city’s troubled past when he auditioned.

“Mum and dad talked to me about the Troubles,” he said. “Normally, a kid my age wouldn’t know about them unless their parents or grandparents were affected by it in some way.

“But I didn’t get too into the subject because Belfast doesn’t really focus on the political side. It just shows this family in sort of turmoil.”

The film, also starring Ciaran Hinds, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe and Dame Judi Dench, has been nominated for seven Oscars.

L-R: Belfast director Kenneth Branagh with stars Ciaran Hinds, Caitriona Balfe, (front) Jude Hill and Jamie Dornan at the premiere of Belfast in LA in November 2021. Pic: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Image:
Hill with (L-R) director Kenneth Branagh and stars Ciaran Hinds, Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan at the film’s premiere in LA. Pic: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Shot in black and white, it is a semi-autobiographical take on Branagh’s younger years, witnessing the outbreak of sectarian violence through the eyes of a child.

‘It was our childhood and it takes you back’

Lesley Ann Brown, who grew up around the corner, was stunned to see her grandmother’s grocery shop on the screen.

“He would have been in and out picking up stuff for his parents,” she said. “Yes, my sister was crying almost, you know the park, the school, down into the river. It was our childhood and it takes you back.”

Read more: How the ‘introspection’ of lockdown helped inspire Belfast
Read more: Jamie Dornan on Belfast buzz and The Tourist
Read more: Caitriona Balfe on Belfast success and the return of Outlander

Kate Nicholl says she’s privileged to be the Lord Mayor of Belfast at a time when the film is putting the city on the world stage.

“Belfast is what it is because of the people of the city and their personal stories,” she said. “But to celebrate the talent that comes from this place… and the opportunities that young people now have in Belfast. How different it is to that Belfast that Kenneth Branagh grew up in.”

Jude, who has revealed that he helped Dame Judi master the Belfast accent, says he has to pinch himself every day.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, but I love it.”

You can watch the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday 27 March exclusively on Sky Cinema from 11pm – and follow our live blog on the Sky News website and app. For those not wanting to stay up late, you can watch again on Monday 28 at 7pm on Sky Cinema or from 10pm on Sky Showcase

Articles You May Like

NASA rover discovery reveals there may have been life on Mars
Wonderboy still has it, but should he jump right back into the title picture?
Big advertisers including Amazon returning to Twitter, says report
Tankers seen heading to Russia as oil price cap goes into effect on exports
OPEC+ to consider deeper oil output cuts ahead of Russia sanctions and proposed price cap