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San Diego Film Festival


San Diego Film Festival celebrates our eleventh anniversary with five days filled with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and four nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties.

 

 


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Film is Life, Art is Hope - 'Belfast' (Film Review)

Kenneth Branagh’s name will likely be a mainstay during this year’s awards season with his absolute masterpiece of a film, ‘Belfast.’ Inspired by his childhood experiences, ‘Belfast’ follows a young boy and his family's crossroads between leaving their home town or staying to endure violence and religiously driven civil warfare. 

 

The themes of the film are heavy, but the true essence of the film is innocence and hopefulness. It is masterly crafted in a way that makes the experience enjoyable and at times, comical. Jude Hill delivers a performance that most adult actors would envy. He plays the lead character, Buddy, a hopeful and hopelessly romantic child caught up in the heat of a town strife with violence and revolution. His innocence and naivety have an endearing quality. He falls in love with a local girl and is led astray by friends who want to be a part of the movement, whether or not they even understand what that means. 

 

At the core of the film, is a bold statement on art and cinema. For the most part, the film plays in black and white to match the bleak tone of the time it exists in. However, color fills the screen whenever the family goes out to the theatre or to the local cinema. A clear statement on art giving hope even when life seems hopeless. A lesson everyone can relate to. A memorable moment comes in the second act of the film, when it seems there is no escape for this family caught in the middle of conflict. They go to a screening of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,’ fully immersed in the bright and saturated color as the family sings along to the film. 

 

I cannot emphasize enough how fun and joyful this film is. Even with the riots, the violence and the hate being thrown around, the young boy still finds ways to enjoy his youth, and that spirit is contagious through all of those around him. In a time where most movies want to torture its audience and make them feel the pain of its subjects, it’s truly refreshing to experience dark themes in a way that still feels light and joyful. It is grounded in the perspective of the young boy, and carried through to the very end. Its final sequence was reminiscent of the battle scene at the end of ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and comes to a perfect climax. 

 

‘Belfast’ was a stunning portrayal of historic events, told through the lens of a charismatic child. I had heard good things about the film going in, but had no idea just how good it would be. It was by far my favorite film of the festival and one that I expect to be in the awards conversation moving forward. Please go see this film in Theatres when it releases in November. You will laugh, you will cry and you will be blown away by masterful filmmaking. Remember, "if you can't be good, then be careful."

 

My rating: 5/5 stars

Written by: Cameron Lui

 

 

 

 

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About San Diego Film Festival


San Diego Film Festival celebrates the art & style of film for five days in September with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and five nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties!

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