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Belfast - What We Know So Far

After going to Egypt in "Death on the Nile" and putting on a dubious Russian accent for "Tenet," Kenneth Branagh is headed to Ireland with his next feature, "Belfast."

At the end of 2020, the drama was acquired by Focus Features for distribution in the United States, and the director of "Henry V" and "Thor" declared in a statement that "Belfast" was his "most personal film...It's about coming home — a dramatic journey of excitement, emotion and humour." Lately, Branagh has alternated between acting in Nolan blockbusters like "Tenet" and "Dunkirk," and directing tentpoles like "Artemis Fowl" and "Murder on the Orient Express." This would also be Branagh's first drama since his Shakespeare film "All Is True" in 2018.

While we know that "Belfast" is definitely not an action blockbuster or Shakespearean drama, we still only have a few concrete details about the new movie, for which there's still no trailer quite yet.

Here is what we do know about Kenneth Branagh's upcoming movie with Focus Features, "Belfast."

What's the release date for Belfast?

In March, Focus Features officially set the United States theatrical release date of "Belfast" for November 12, 2021. The international distribution will be handled by Universal, with theatrical release dates abroad to be presumably announced later. "Belfast" will also premiere in September at the Toronto Film Festival.

Unlike many films set to be released in fall and winter later this year, "Belfast" didn't see any delays from the COVID-19 pandemic. But with Delta and other variants still counting as a factor, it's possible that the film could see the November date pushed back further if there's another surge. Time will tell as to whether "Belfast," along with movies like "Dune" and "The French Dispatch," will be released when it's supposed to.

If not, "Belfast" may see a Spring or Summer 2022 release instead, especially if Focus still wants it to be seen as an Oscar contender. Everything so far suggests this could be the kind of prestige drama Academy Award audiences tend to shower with statues.

Who's in the cast of Belfast?

Based on the names listed, "Belfast" should have an extremely strong and capable cast. Jamie Dornan ("Fifty Shades of Grey") leads the film, as does Golden Globe nominee Caitriona Balfe. Longtime Branagh collaborator Dame Judi Dench is also named as part of the ensemble, as is Shakespearean actor — and Mance Rayder himself — Ciaran Hinds. The last time Dench worked with Branagh was in 2020's "Artemis Fowl."

Also announced is newcomer Jude Hill, a child actor with only one credit prior to "Belfast" (a short film called "Rian"). He'll be playing the role of "Buddy" in the film, which, from what we know about the plot, is one of the most central characters of the film.

Other actors rounding out the cast so far will include Lara McDonnell, Aoife Hinds (daughter of Ciarin Hinds), Gerard McCarthy, Conor MacNeill, Brid Brennan, Olive Tennant, Sid Sagar, Zak Holland, Claire Ashton, Gerald Horan, and Turlough Convery.

We'll find out more about each cast member beyond assigned names when "Belfast" opens in November.

What's the plot of Belfast?

According to Deadline, "Belfast" is a coming of age story that focuses on a boy's life as chaos unfolds in the capital of Northern Ireland in the late-1960s.

The film is personal to Branagh, as he was born in Belfast and moved away when he was nine to escape the Troubles there — a period of irregular war between various factions in the nationalist conflicts of Northern Ireland. Jude Hill's character of Buddy appears the central role of the movie, as he's a child experiencing the chaos of the times. Branagh told the Belfast Telegraph that "It's to some extent a look at people and a place in tumult through the eyes of a nine-year-old movie-mad kid."

Dornan and Balfe are playing Buddy's parents, a working class couple caught up in the violence of the period, while Hinds and Dench will be Buddy's grandparents. Little else is known about the plot, but knowing the history of the period, expect violence, some black humor, and a child's view of life during wartime.

We'll discover what "Belfast" is actually like though when it comes out Stateside on November 12th.