WATCH: City’s oldest picture house the perfect spot to watch Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast film
When Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast opens tomorrow (Thursday) in the city where it is set, one cinema can lay claim to being a venue befitting of hosting the movie.
Strand Arts Centre CEO Mimi Turtle said: “This is the only original picture house left in Belfast.
“The film itself includes a couple of visits to the pictures. Kenneth Branagh grew up in north Belfast so it’s probably the Troxy which has been demolished along with a lot of our picture houses.
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“The Strand has a lot of similarities to the Troxy, the same architect. It feels quite nostalgic watching it in a picture house whenever you’re looking at another cinema from the same era.”
Although the film’s UK release date is given as Friday (January 21), special screenings will take place in Belfast tomorrow evening before opening across Northern Ireland on Friday.
Mimi said the film had generated a lot of interest prior to its release: “We’ve seen a lot more interest than we normally would.
“People are really interested and intrigued, I think people hold Kenneth Branagh in such a sense of pride. He has given back an enormous amount to our creative industry in Northern Ireland, championing what he considers his home town.
“The audience are interested, particularly those middle-aged and senior, who will remember the era.”
Jude Hill plays nine-year-old Buddy, a role based on Branagh himself, in the film which also stars Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench as members of Buddy’s family.
It is set at the beginning of the Troubles, but violence, although occasional, is not to the fore in the film.
Mimi said: “I think the Troubles is more of a backdrop. It’s incidental to the characters.
“There’s definitely a sense that it’s written for a global audience more than a Northern Ireland audience.
“It’s got that nostalgia, that wholesomeness which the American love about all things Northern Irish or Irish.”
She added: “This is just one person’s story, one person’s memory and obviously stories and narratives change with memory.
“It’s that kind of sepia, rose-tinted view that comes whenever you have memories.
“Because it is set here I know Kenneth Branagh and Jamie Dornan have said in interviews that they are more nervous that people here will enjoy it and accept it.”
Of the staggered release which has seen the film open in America and other parts of the world before the UK, Mimi said: “It is unusual because of pirating for a film not to have one international release date.
“People here will already have seen the film, but not on the big screen as it was meant to be showcased.”
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