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Toronto (Canada) (AFP)
At a time when peace is precarious in Northern Ireland, Kenneth Branagh signs with his film “Belfast”, which caused a sensation at the Toronto film festival, a love letter to his hometown which he fled as a child .
Inspired by his personal story, this black-and-white comedy-drama, which hits theaters in November in North America, shows the outbreak of violence in the province in the late 1960s through the eyes of Buddy, a boy from nine years.
It was at this age that Kenneth Branagh and his family moved to England to escape the “Troubles” which then tore apart Northern Ireland and Belfast.
“A story like this tries to show that even in the midst of chaos and violence, this city has incredible qualities,” the actor-director told AFP on the red carpet of the Toronto film festival.
The people of Belfast are resilient and “have overcome an incredible number of challenges” and it is not over, he added.
Northern Ireland has been rocked in recent months by violence unprecedented for several years after Brexit undermined a fragile peace.
Violence which resurfaces the specter of the “Troubles” and their 3,500 deaths, which for three bloody decades opposed Republicans, mainly Catholics in favor of reunification with Ireland, and Protestant unionists, fervent defenders of belonging to the United Kingdom. United.
From the first scene, the spectator plunges into the violence of the time: the film begins in the street in the summer of 1969 when groups of Protestants attack Catholic families to force them to leave the streets where the two groups lived side by side.
British troops are deployed and Buddy’s father is faced with the difficult decision to uproot his family.
– Humour –
“The fear of bombs every weekend when trying to meet your friends in town … those kinds of things that had become so normal for us look crazy in retrospect,” remembers actor Jamie Dornan who also grew up. in Belfast.
“There will always be unrest in Northern Ireland, unfortunately”, adds the actor known in particular for having played one of the main roles of the erotic adventures “Fifty Shades of Gray”.
But in “Belfast”, the violence is partly mitigated by the gaze of the child (Jude Hill) who has only a partial understanding of the gravity of the situation. And the film also gives pride of place to many moments of humor.
The feature film, applauded by the Toronto audience and seen by some critics as a good candidate for the Oscars next March, is also worn by a cast of stars: Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Caitriona Balfe but also Ciaran Hinds.
Briton Kenneth Branagh, with an eclectic career that spans Shakespeare’s adaptations to “Thor”, says he has been thinking about “Belfast” for decades. But it was ultimately the first confinement in England that gave him the opportunity to write it.
“This threat of the very dangerous virus that has locked us all in, has also made us all very introspective I think,” he said.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of North America’s premier cinematic gatherings, saw the return of Hollywood stars this year for the first time in two years due to the pandemic .
© 2021 AFP