Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ Wins TIFF People’s Choice Award
The director’s semi-autobiographical film is set in 1969, when rioting broke out in his childhood neighborhood, but evokes familiar feelings of unease in the COVID era

Variety, 18 September 2021
By Ellise Shafer

Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The Platform Jury prize went to “Yuni,” directed by Kamila Andini, while the People’s Choice Documentary Award winner went to “The Rescue,” directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to “Titane,” directed by Julia Ducournau.

“Our first showing of ‘Belfast’ at TIFF was one of the most memorable experiences of my entire career,” Branagh said in his acceptance speech. “That so many Canadian film lovers connected with ‘Belfast’ so profoundly was absolutely overwhelming to myself and Jamie Dornan, and we talked about it long into a memorable night of laughter and tears in your great city. Thanks to Focus Features and Universal for making it happen, they’ve been incredible partners. Thank you to Cameron Bailey, an Irish name if ever there was one, for hosting us with such kindness and sensitivity that went from projectionists to volunteers right through the whole team in that amazing city.”

“2021 brought an exceptional selection of films that excited festival audiences around the world,” said Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-heads. “Our lineup showcased beloved auteurs alongside fresh voices in filmmaking, including numerous women powerhouses. TIFF welcomed guest press, industry, international stars, and directors back to the city and into cinemas. The sweeping range in cinematic storytelling from around the world is a testament to the uniqueness of the films that are being made. We’re so grateful and proud of this year’s festival.”

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