Kenneth Branagh says as a child he experienced “20 seconds where the world turned upside down”, which provided him with creative inspiration decades later.
The award winning actor and director said he had come to the realisation that the incident had been “the most defining, important event in my own little personal life”.
His semi-autobiographical film Belfast follows a working class protestant family during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Speaking at a Hollywood Reporter director’s roundtable, Branagh said he had spent 50 years remembering the particular moment in his life “where everything changed” and which had compelled him to make the film.
“There were about 20 seconds in my life when I heard a noise that I thought was bees… and then everything slowed down,” he said.
“I turned around… but it’s not (bees), it’s people. ‘Oh, Christ, they’re coming toward us’.
“And it turned into a riot where they smashed windows and pulled the drains up out of the street and used pieces of wrought iron”.
Twenty seconds where the world turned upside down, and I have spent about 50 years slowly coming to the realisation that that was the most defining, important event in my own little personal life.Kenneth Branagh
Belfast includes a scene in which the film’s young protagonist Buddy, played by Jude Hill, becomes caught up in a similar incident.
“As I thought about this years later… after those twenty seconds I realised I was never the same again with my family,” Branagh said.
“I never lived in the same place, I didn’t sound the same, I didn’t do what I thought I might be doing.
“Twenty seconds where the world turned upside down, and I have spent about 50 years slowly coming to the realisation that that was the most defining, important event in my own little personal life”.
He added: “I’ve been sort of haunted and I would say probably guilt-ridden as well, for about half a century, so I just had to do (the film)”.
Belfast stars Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench and has already received various nominations going into the 2022 awards season.