Some very early talk regarding next spring's Oscars has centred on a film inspired by, about and named after Belfast.

Belfast came to Belfast tonight: the Irish premiere of the eponymous movie took place in the city's Waterfront Hall to open this year's Film Festival.

It was attended by a large crowd who got their hands on the pre-released tickets as well as a crew and cast, including some of the many stars.

Kenneth Branagh at the Irish premiere for his movie Belfast

The film was written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, previously an Oscar nominee for acting in and directing Henry V, among other Academy Award nominations and a raft of Baftas, Emmy nods and more.

It is described as coming straight from his own experiences as a boy growing up in the city.

Set in 1969, as the Troubles are just starting to make themselves felt in the lives of local people, Belfast tells the story of a nine-year-old boy, Buddy, who is trying to negotiate the path through childhood with the help of his parents, grandparents, and the world around him.

Director Kenneth Branagh and actor Jude Hill on the set of Belfast / Image: Rob Youngson via Focus Features

Buddy is played by Jude Hill, now aged 10, who was cast after a lengthy process involving an initial bunch of hundreds of young hopefuls who were then narrowed down to 30 on a "short" list, then subjected to auditions.

"I first did a self-tape, then numerous call-backs, and the whole casting process was intense at times," Jude himself said as he arrived at the premiere, "but I just loved the entire process and, in the end, here I am."

Meanwhile, his parents are played by Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan, with Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds stepping in as grandparents.

Jamie Dornan on the red carpet at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast

Jamie Dornan said he was "very affected, emotional" when he first read the script.

"I hadn't read anything like this, set at home, before. I'm lucky, a lot of stuff that's set here [in Belfast] comes my way.

"I've been lucky to have been in stuff set here, I've been lucky to play characters from Belfast in lots of different things, but never quite like this.

"It felt like a very unique opportunity to tell a different side of events with these incredible film-makers.

"We really care about what people think about this movie in this town tonight. We've had the most insane, immeasurable, praise so far for this film, worldwide, but we really care what they think. It matters to us."

The Irish premiere of Belfast was co-hosted by Northern Ireland Screen and Belfast Film Festival.

Caitríona Balfe plays Buddy's mother in Belfast

It has already received plaudits from the global film industry and was awarded Toronto International Film Festival's People Choice Award following its screening there in September.

"We couldn't be prouder," Belfast Film Festival director Michele Devlin said, "to have welcomed Kenneth Branagh and his brilliant new film to Belfast to open the 21st Belfast Film Festival.

"His lovingly-crafted homage to his hometown and its citizens perfectly encapsulates the theme of this year's festival, 'bringing it all back home'. It is an honour to have Ken and the cast 'back home' to the city to celebrate the inspiring energy and heart that went into creating his Oscar-tipped film."

Judi Dench as "Granny", Jude Hill as "Buddy" and Ciarán Hinds as "Pop" in Belfast / / Image: Rob Youngson via Focus Features

Belfast, and Northern Ireland in general, have an impressive recent history of film-making with the likes of the multi-series and multi-award-winning Game of Thrones made in significant part there, as well as numerous feature films and other recent TV series such as The Fall (also starring Jamie Dornan).

Because of that, there is a ready-made infrastructure in place to make film-making more accessible to the likes of Kenneth Branagh and other producers, directors and writers.

"It's taken me 50 years to find the right way to write about it, to find the tone I wanted," Kenneth Branagh said about the process.

"It can take a very long time to understand just how simple things can be and finding that perspective, years on, provides a great focus.

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"The story of my childhood, which inspired the film, has become a story to the point in everyone's life when the child crosses over into adulthood, where innocence is lost. That point of crossover, in Belfast in 1969, was accelerated by the tumult happening around us all."

On this occasion, many of the key crew members are people who have worked with the Belfast-born director in the past, including production designer Jim Clay; director of photography Haris Zambarloukos; hair and make-up artist Wakana Yoshihara; editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle; costume designer Charlotte Walker and casting directors Lucy Bevan and Emily Brockman.

Much of the soundtrack is by another Belfast native, Van Morrison. Producers are Branagh himself, Laura Berwick, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas.

Belfast will go on general release next January.

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