Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical movie “Belfast” just got a major boost in the race for the 2022 Best Picture Oscar.
The film, starring Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, nabbed the TIFF People’s Choice Award on Saturday. The award has been given to nine films that went on to be nominated for Best Picture within the last ten years. Three of those films ended up winning the coveted award.
The TIFF People’s Choice award is voted on by members of the public who attended the film festival, not industry professionals.
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During his acceptance speech, Branagh called the praise “overwhelming,” as EW reports.
“Our first showing of ‘Belfast’ at TIFF was one of the most memorable experiences of my entire career,” Branagh said. He added that he and star Jamie Dornan “talked about [the experience] long into a memorable night of laughter and tears.”
“Belfast” tells the story of an Irish family attempting to leave their home in Northern Ireland amidst the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in the late 1960s.
The People have spoken.
Announcing the recipient of the #TIFF21 People’s Choice Award: Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST. pic.twitter.com/HhuWkQbRkK
— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) September 18, 2021
“Outlander” star Caitríona Balfe recently spoke to EW about making the movie. “[Kenneth Branagh] sent me the script before we’d spoken. It’s so full of heart, I got emotional reading it. As I said to him the first time we spoke, Ma just felt so familiar to me. You can’t help but think about your own childhood, your own mother. It touched me,” Balfe said.
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“On one of our first days together, Ken had me, Judi [Dench], Ciarán [Hinds], and Jamie in a room together, and we talked about our upbringings. Ken asked lots of questions, we all shared. Even though this is Ken’s story, he wanted us to connect with the things personal to us, and find similarities between ourselves and his parents.”
TIFF 2021 also ended with TIFF Tribute Actor Awards being given out to Jessica Chastain for her work in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and Benedict Cumberbatch for “The Power of the Dog” and “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.” Denis Villeneuve took home the TIFF Ebert Director Award for “Dune”, and Dionne Warwick won a Special Tribute Award for “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over.”