I Am Belfast

Film, Documentaries
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
I Am Belfast

A thematic documentary on the city of Belfast

Critic, writer and filmmaker Mark Cousins continues his run of highly personal movie essays with this typically warm-hearted, eccentric doc about his birth city of Belfast. It’s history in the loosest sense: Cousins imagines Belfast as a woman (Helena Bereen). She walks around town giving voice to his words, talking about the Troubles and their legacy, and reaching further back in time to the launch of the Titanic and the founding of the modern city in the seventeenth century.

But for all the talk of the past, most of the footage is contemporary and Cousins lingers on the modern and the mundane too, musing quietly on the colour of the sky or a man lying in a street doorway. He’s open to distractions – sitting down with a cheerily foul-mouthed pair of older women (for him these tough, spirited ladies are the soul of the city). Inevitably, ‘I Am Belfast’ tells a story of violence and division. Yet Cousins is an optimist and he includes two hopeful, staged moments: a bus driver turning round to pick up a woman’s forgotten shopping and the funeral of ‘the last bigot’. This is a boldly messy and impressionistic film.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Release date: Friday April 8 2016
Duration: 84 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mark Cousins
Screenwriter: Mark Cousins

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

Many of my friends are from Northern Ireland so I was curious to watch this. I hadn't done any research and didn't know what to expect. I got over the first hurdle of actually finding it! I intended to watch it on BFI player -but having paid £10 for it, `I couldn't get it to work on any of my devices! (The argument about the refund is ongoing). As a friend and I had taken ages to get the date in the diary - I persevered and found it on Curzon home TV via Amazon for £4!

The film itself is very original - told through the eyes of a woman - who IS Belfast. The cinematography is amazing showing some amazing geographical as well as city scenes with amazing colours. Be really interesting to understand how many effects were used v how natural it is. The narrator takes us through Belfast's history and culture through a number of lenses - using a mixture of movement, poetry, stories and interactions. Something this arty is really risky and could be very dull or pretentious but I loved it, found myself compelled and absorbed. It won't be for everyone but I would recommend giving it a try.