Filmmaker, actor and producer Kenneth Brannagh (‘death on the nile‘) talks in an exclusive interview about the importance of his new autobiographical film, ‘Belfast‘, nominated for seven Oscars 2022.
“’Belfast’ is my personal story on screen. Belfast is a city full of history, especially in the late 1960s, when the place went through a very tumultuous period in its history. It was dramatic and sometimes violent.”confesses Brannagh.
“My family and I are part of that era. For me, the film has always been the story of our time. That thing always came up when I thought about writing something about Ireland and our time in Belfast.”adds the director.
The tumultuous and violent period that Kenneth Brannagh referred to, marked the recent history of Northern Ireland. To understand the political and social problems that appear in the film, it is necessary to detail a little more about it.
Understand the beginning of conflict
Looking at the panorama, we see that on one side were the people of the Protestant Church, those who controlled the Government. On the other were the faithful of the Catholic Church, who were a minority and felt oppressed in the place.
It all started during a campaign organized by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Association to end discrimination against Catholic people.
In the midst of this, several violent confrontations took place across the country, with one of them being treated as the main theme of the conflict. It is a march that took place on October 5, 1968, in the city of Irish Derby, Ireland.
the day of mourning
January 30, 1972, a sort of cowardly massacre, became known as Bloody Sunday, where 13 people were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army, with another 15 wounded.
In the end, around 15,000 people had gathered to march against discrimination in the neighborhood of Londonderry. The conflict lasted about 30 years, starting in the 1960s and ending in 1998.
In the resolution, disagreements came to an end with an agreement that determined a ceasefire, where the Irish Republican Army’s arms were handed over, several political reforms and the withdrawal of the British Army took place.
the balance of war
During these three decades of conflict, it was estimated that nearly 4,000 people died, including the margin that 52% of that number were innocent civilians.
To understand the geography of the countries, Ireland is located on an island divided between the Republic of Ireland. Officially just called Ireland, the place occupies almost the entire territory. With the remaining part being called Northern Ireland, thus forming part of the United Kingdom.
Kenneth Brannagh says: “This has always been a story, something very important in the lives of all of us, whether male or female, when the transition to adulthood finally takes place. When innocence is lost and new responsibilities arise. Sometimes new concerns are discovered. We tried to understand when that moment happens, in this specific case it was in Belfast in 1969, with everything being accelerated around us”.
“The film highlights a small, well-defined family group in a very threatening and stressful situation. The family, all the time, has to make a big decision that will change their lives. It is not an epic film in the historical or biographical sense, but the lives of people indirectly involved in that conflict.”complements the British filmmaker.
Kenneth Brannagh he also said that his main source of inspiration was the old western films, which he used to build the script’s aesthetic structure.
“You see, the story is told through the eyes of a 9-year-old boy. He is a boy who watched a lot of television and a lot of movies. And since that time, he was already beginning to link many of his experiences with other imaginary encounters and stories.”informed the director.
“One of the things we explored was how many westerns were shown on TV during that time, and how the city of Belfast might look like the Wild West. When I wrote the script, I really imagined I was writing a Western. A western that was built in the memory of the boy Buddy”says Brannagh excitedly.
In the plot, a boy experiences love, joy and pain of loss. Amid political and social conflicts, the boy tries to find a safe place to dream, while his family seeks a better life for everyone. ‘Belfast‘ premiered in theaters in Brazil this past Thursday (10) and considered one of the favorites to take the Oscar for Best Picture, alongside ‘Dog Attack‘, from Jane Campion.
Text made in partnership with Jânio Nazareth.