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Entertainment: Belfast film: Northern Irish cinemas prepare for release of film they say will 'resonate' with local audiences

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Cinema owners are preparing for the UK and Ireland premiere of Kenneth Branagh's Belfast film which is set to arrive in cinemas on Friday, January 21st - with local audiences in Northern Ireland getting the chance to see it early on January 20.

The film, which was based on Kenneth Branagh's early childhood in North Belfast, follows the story of nine-year-old Buddy (played by newcomer Jude Hill) and his family, as their life is upended by the onset of The Troubles in 1969.

The film has been a critical and international success and has already scooped numerous awards, including the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, as well as a recent Golden Globe for Kenneth Branagh for Best Screenplay.

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Already released in America, film lovers have flocked to cinemas to see the all-star cast, which features Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Ciaran Hinds and Jude Hill.

Ahead of its release here, we spoke to cinema owners about the excitement leading up to its premiere.

Richard Gaston, marketing manager of the Strand Cinema and Arts Centre in East Belfast, said excitement was building ahead of its release.

"We're counting down the days until we finally get to screen Belfast ," he told us. "Due to the pandemic's impact on Belfast's global release strategy, it's bit a little frustrating that audiences in America have been able to see the film while we've all had to wait, but we're nearly there - and it's certainly whetted the appetite."

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Despite the difficulties faced by cinemas due to lockdowns during the pandemic, Richard said he's been encouraged by the presale tickets for the film, as movie lovers continue to flock to see films on the big screen once again.

"Advance ticket sales have been very healthy indeed, on a par with some big blockbusters, and we'll be showing the film in two screens. Our customers are very excited about the release. We've also been chatting to a lot of people who haven't been to the cinema in many years but who are making a welcome return for this film."

The Strand manager added that the film itself with chime with local audiences here.

He said: " Belfast will resonate with anyone who grew up in the city, so it is fitting that the film's producers are giving Belfast audiences the chance to see it first on Thursday 20th before it opens across the UK and Ireland on the Friday."

Where can I see Belfast on the big screens?

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Belfast will be shown at cinemas throughout Northern Ireland fro January 21st, with limited premiere release in some cinemas on January 20th.

Northern Irish cinemas screening the film include:

Omniplex Cinemas (15 locations throughout Northern Ireland)

Find out more here.

The QFT

Find out more here.

Movie House Cinemas (four locations throughout Northern Ireland)

Find out more here.

The Strand Arts Centre

Find out more here.

Cineworld Cinemas (located at the Odyssey Pavilion)

Find out more here.

IMC Cinemas (Ballymena, Banbridge, Enniskillen, Newtownards and Omagh)

Find out more here.

The Ritz Multiplex, Cookstown

Find out more here.

Who is Kenneth Branagh - the actor turned director and writer of film Belfast? .
The actor has had an extensive career in theatre, film, and TV The semi-autobiographical film from Kenneth Branagh centres around nine-year-old Buddy as he navigates life in the city at the beginning of The Troubles in 1969.

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