Northern Ireland Films: Nine Hidden Gems You May Have Missed – And Where To See Them

Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ film is all over the place right now, but there are plenty of great films to come out of Northern Ireland over the years.

Branagh says that as a kid they experienced “20 seconds that turned the world upside down,” which would provide him with creative inspiration decades later.

The award-winning actor-director said he came to the realization that the incident was “the most defining and 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.

We’ve checked out nine hidden Northern Irish films you may have missed:

Nothing special

Daniel Lamont and James Norton in Nowhere Special

John, a 35-year-old window cleaner, has devoted his life to raising his four-year-old son, Michael, after the child’s mother abandoned her immediately after his birth. However, John has only a few months to live. With no family to turn to, he spends his remaining days searching for a new and perfect family to adopt Michael.

A tearjerker if there ever was one, this 2020 film features excellent turns from English actor James Norton and Northern Irish boy Daniel Lamont (who was only six at the time of filming). Make a favorite and check it out.

Where to see: The film is currently available on Sky Cinema or Sky Go

A bump on the way

A bump on the way

A wonderful feel-good film that hit the screens just before Covid cinemas closed, A bump on the way follows a single mother from Derry, played by the incredible Bronagh Gallager, who at the age of 44 becomes pregnant from a one-night stand, much to the chagrin of her teenage daughter (Lola Petticrew).

A touching local film well worth seeing.

Where to watch: The film is currently available on YouTube, Amazon Prime or Apple TV.

shadow dancer

Clive Owen and Andrea Risenborough in Shadow Dancers

English actress Andrea Risenborough stars in Shadow Dancer, a suspense political thriller released in 2012. Risenborough’s character, Colette McVeigh, is forced to become a British informant at the height of the riots, jeopardizing her relationship with her family. Co-stars are Gillian Anderson and Clive Owen.

Where to Watch: Shadow Dancer is currently available to buy or rent on Apple TV.

Bad day for editing

Bad Day For The Cut tells the story of a middle-aged Irish farmer who seeks revenge when his mother is murdered by a gang for unknown reasons.

Lead actor Nigel O’Neill does one hell of a job in this film, and he’s ably assisted by Polish actor Józef Pawlowski, who becomes his kind of sidekick as things go by.

Where to see: The film is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Boys from County Hell

The cast of Boys From County Hell

Northern Ireland has long been a good vampire comedy horror film, so Boys from County Hell was welcome when it was released last year.

A comical caper about a trio of cash-strapped workers, led by a conflicted father-son team, who take a job in a forbidden and isolated place, only to awaken an ancient Irish vampire in the process.

Where to watch: The film is available to rent on YouTube.

Black medicine

Antonia Campbell-Hughes, who stars as Jo in Black Medicine

Directed by local Colum Eastwood, Black Medicine follows Jo, a black market medic who runs illegal operations for the criminal underworld.

When she gives sanctuary to a young girl, Jo must choose between breaking her doctor’s oath or misleading her ruthless employers.

Black Medicine stars Derry-born actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes, who recently appeared in 2016’s blockbuster Split and Irish blockbuster Black ’47.

Where to watch: Black Medicine is currently on Amazon Prime


Nika McGuigan and Nora-Jane Noone in Wildfire

wildfire tells the story of two sisters growing up in a town along the border at the end of the riots. Directed by Cathy Brady, it was Nika McGuigan’s last film.

Nika plays Kelly, the younger sister who ran away from home after her mother died. Kelly then returns to Northern Ireland in modern day – amid renewed turmoil along the Brexit-induced border – and attempts to reconnect with her older sister Lauren (played by Nora-Jane Noone).

Together they try to mend their broken relationship and deal with the aftermath of their mother’s death.

Where to see: The film is currently being ‘toured’ through local cinemas in Northern Ireland. Find out where to watch it here.

Ordinary love

Ordinary love

Ordinary Love, starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, was released in 2019 and went about its business quietly without really attracting much attention.

Still, the Belfast-based romantic drama was easily one of the best films ever made here, with both Neeson and Manville delivering some of their best performances ever.

It’s heartbreaking, compelling, and humorous in so many ways. Film critic Mark Kermode rightly called it one of the best films of 2019.

Where to Watch: Ordinary Love is currently available to watch on Netflix

An eternal piece

An eternal piece

An American comedy directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson, composed by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer and reportedly selling for £14million. An eternal piece was a box office bomb telling the unlikely tale of two wig sellers, a Catholic and a Protestant, living in War-Tower Belfast in the 1980s.

A complete failure, there have been claims that its theatrical release was deliberately sabotaged by British officials due to its “sympathetic portrayal” of the IRA.

It may all sound like a fever dream give my head peace character, but believe it or not, it’s real. And what’s even more incredible, the movie itself isn’t that bad. If you can excuse some bad accents and have a penchant for the bizarre, you’ll enjoy it.

Where to watch: The film is currently available on YouTube, Amazon Prime or Apple TV.


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