Wednesday, October 25, 6 p.m.
Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf IA
Lauded by The Observer as an "unabashedly feel-good memoir" and by The Digital Fix as "a brilliantly performed, delicately written family drama that is a delight to watch," writer/director Kenneth Branagh's Belfast serves as the fourth offering in the Bettendorf Public Library's Global Gathering Ireland film series, the October 25 screening treating audiences to a crowd-pleasing critical hit that earned seven 2021 Academy Award nominations and won for Branagh's original screenplay.
The film chronicles the life of a working-class Ulster Protestant family from the perspective of their nine-year-old son Buddy during The Troubles in 1969 Belfast, Northern Ireland, as is based on Branagh's own childhood experiences, With the central character the pre-teen and Branagh surrogate Buddy (Jude Hill), Buddy's father (Jamie Dornan) works overseas in England, while the rest of the family -- Buddy's mother (Caitríona Balfe), elder brother (Lewis McAskie), and paternal grandparents (Oscar nominees Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench) -- live in Belfast. With Branagh describing the work as his most personal project to date, Belfast had its world premiere at the 48th Telluride Film Festival in September of 2021; shortly thereafter, it won the People's Choice Award at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was released in the United States that November and in the United Kingdom and Ireland the following January, and the film ultimately grossed nearly $50 million worldwide off a budget of between $10 and $15 million.
Branagh's work received seven nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and tied with The Power of the Dog for a leading seven nominations at the 79th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama. Winning best screenplay from both organization, Belfast also tied with West Side Story for a leading 11 nominations at the 27th Critics' Choice Awards, including Best Picture, and received six nominations at the 75th British Academy Film Awards, winning Outstanding British Film. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the movie holds an approval rating of 86 percent, with the Web site's critics consensus, which states, "A deeply personal project for writer/director Kenneth Branagh, Belfast transcends its narrative deficits with powerful performances and directorial craft." TheWrap's Steve Pond, meanwhile, raved, "The film feels true in the way it must be exploring Branagh's memories of a tumultuous and confusing time, and the way it pays tribute to a vibrant community as that community is irrevocably changed."
With the 2023 Global Gathering Ireland funded by the Bettendorf Public Library Foundation and supported by title sponsor Northwest Bank & Trust and presenting sponsor the Iowa American Water Company, Belfast will be screened on October 25 at 6 p.m., admission to the PG-13 movie is free, and more information is available by calling (563)344-4175 and visiting BettendorfLibrary.com.