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Belfast star Jude Hill up for lead actor honour at Irish Film & Television Awards

Schoolboy also heading to LA this weekend to attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards – but his teachers haven’t forgotten to give him his homework

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Sir Kenneth Branagh with Jude Hill

Sir Kenneth Branagh with Jude Hill

Jude Hill as Buddy in Belfast

Jude Hill as Buddy in Belfast

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Sir Kenneth Branagh with Jude Hill

The young star of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast has told of his delight after being nominated for a lead actor gong at next month’s Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTA).

Jude Hill, who missed out on an Oscar nod in the same category earlier this month, is one of five actors vying for the top prize at the celebration of the Irish film and television industry.

In total, homegrown talent and projects feature across 25 categories, with Branagh’s seven times Oscar-nominated movie leading the way with 10 IFTA nods.

The semi-autobiographical love letter to his native city is also up for best film, best director and best script, while Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds pick up supporting actor nominations and Caitriona Balfe is in the mix for best supporting actress.

Belfast also is in the running for best editing, make-up and hair and original music for Van Morrison.

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Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, 11-year-old Hill, who was nine at the time of the Belfast shoot and whose portrayal of Buddy has won him worldwide critical acclaim, said: “I’m so happy and excited to be nominated in the lead actor category.

“It’s such an honour to be nominated and to be recognised for something that I absolutely love doing. I’m very proud that Belfast has been nominated in 10 categories and want to congratulate all the other nominees. It shows just how much talent there is in our wee country.”

Hill heads to LA this weekend to attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards with the rest of the cast and to pick up his best newcomer gong from the Hollywood Critics Association. To date, he has won 10 awards in recognition of his role as Buddy and is hoping to attend the Oscars ceremony next month.

But despite his rising profile and new-found fame, he still manages to keep his feet on the ground and carry on his school work.

“I’ve been back and forth to LA a few times, but my teachers always give me homework packs for me to do,” said the St John’s Primary School pupil.

“School work is important to me, but I love acting and this is definitely what I want to do when I leave school. I loved every aspect of working on the Belfast set and can’t wait to shoot something again and to hear the word ‘action’.”

Hill goes up against Moe Dunford for Nightride, which was filmed in Belfast, Peter Coonan for Irish language movie Doineann, which was also shot in Northern Ireland, Aaron Monaghan for Redemption of a Rogue and Donall O Healai for Foscadh.

Following the IFTA announcements, Sir Ken said he was delighted with the ongoing support for the film.

“We all feel very proud and honoured by this recognition,” he said.

“Cinema-goers across the whole of Ireland have been incredibly supportive of our film and it’s wonderful that a story designed for the big screen has been met by such a massive return of audiences to their local cinemas across the island. Thank you.”

Elsewhere, BBC One drama Three Families, which was filmed here, receives a trio of nods. It tells the real-life stories of how three families were each affected by Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion law before it was changed in 2019.

Sinead Keenan is nominated for lead actress drama, Owen McDonnell for supporting actor and Belfast’s Lola Petticrew for supporting actress.

North Belfast man Hinds scores a double whammy, also picking up a supporting actor drama nomination for RTE crime series Kin.

James Nesbitt is nominated in the lead actor drama category for Netflix thriller Stay Close, based on the book by Harlan Coben.

Richard Williams, chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said: “We are delighted to see so many nominations at this year’s IFTA for Northern Ireland and our honorary president Sir Kenneth Branagh leading the way with Belfast.

“Such a great haul of nominations is testament to the incredible talent we have working here across film and TV. Those working both in front of and behind the camera continue to do so in challenging circumstances, so it is very rewarding to see them celebrated at home and abroad. We extend our huge congratulations to all the nominees.”


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