Filmmaker Kenneth Branagh's 'Belfast' tells personal story of family, love, loss and tolerance

"Belfast" is a coming-of-age drama inspired by filmmaker Kenneth Branagh's own childhood growing up in Northern Ireland.
HOLLYWOOD -- Filmmaker Kenneth Branagh relives the good and bad of his own childhood in his new film "Belfast."

"It was written directly from the heart, really, and what I'm thrilled about is that people seem to be receiving it directly into theirs," said Branagh.

"Belfast" is a coming-of-age drama inspired by writer-director-producer Branagh's own life and growing up in Northern Ireland.

Jamie Dornan stars in the film, which is set during the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in 1969. But it's not about politics, war, or history.

"It is just about a family who are thrusted into a situation that is slightly out of control and not something they asked for and it's how they navigate that and try to make decisions for the betterment of their family," Dornan said. "I think anyone from any family...can relate to that."

"The idea of traveling to broaden the mind or get experience, and it may bring you back home and it may not, but that relationship to home, where ever you end up, is always going to stay there and that relationship to people is going to stay there," said Branagh.

The film is told through the eyes of a bright, optimistic 9-year-old boy. And to play the role, Branagh hired newcomer Jude Hill. The director says he was never disappointed in his decision.

"His vulnerability, his humor and his concentration are a joy to behold," said Branagh.

"He's just such a little ball of light and energy and mischief," said co-star Caitriona Balfe.

"You know, it's a joy to watch it," said Dornan. "It felt like everything that Jude did...worked."

"Belfast" is in theaters now.

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