Northern Irish films: nine hidden gems you may have missed – and where to watch them

Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ is everywhere by the minute, but there are dozens of great movies that have come from Northern Ireland over the years.

Branagh says that as a child he experienced “20 seconds the world turned upside down”, which provided him with creative inspiration decades later.

The award-winning actor and director said he realized the incident had been “the most significant and significant event in my little personal life”.

His semi-autobiographical film Belfast follows a Protestant working-class family during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

We’ve taken a look at 9 hidden Northern Irish movies you might have missed:

nowhere special



Daniel Lamont and James Norton in Nowhere Special

John, a 35-year-old window cleaner, devotes his life to raising his four-year-old son Michael, as the child’s mother left them immediately after he was born. However, John only has a few months left to live. Since he has no family to turn to, he spends his remaining days looking for a new and perfect one to adopt Michael.

A tearjerker if ever there was one, this 2020 film features excellent turns from English actor James Norton and Northern Irish boy Daniel Lamont (who was only six when filming took place). Do yourself a favor and watch this.

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

A bump in the way



A bump in the way

A wonderful feel-good movie that hit screens just before Covid shut down cinemas, A bump in the way centers on a heavy-drinking single mother from Derry, played by the incredible Bronagh Gallager, who becomes pregnant at 44 after a one-night stand, much to the mortification of her teenage daughter (Lola Petticrew).

A moving local film that is well worth watching.

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

ghost dancer



Clive Owen and Andrea Risenborough in Shadow Dancer

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

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

Bad day for cutting



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

Leading man Nigel O’Neill gives one hell of a performance in this film, and he’s ably assisted by Polish actor Józef Pawlowski, who becomes his sidekick as things progress.

Where to watch it: The film is currently on Amazon Prime.

Hell County Boys



The cast of Boys From County Hell

Northern Ireland was long overdue for a good vampire comedy horror movie, so Hell County Boys was welcome when it was released last year.

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

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

black medicine



Antonia Campbell-Hughes, who plays Jo in Black Medicine

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

When she gives refuge to a young girl, Jo must choose between breaking her medical oath or running into her ruthless employers.

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

Where to watch it: Black Medicine is currently on Amazon Prime

Fires



Nika McGuigan and Nora-Jane Noone in Wildfire

Fires tells the story of two sisters who grew up in a border town, at the end of the Troubles. 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 present-day Northern Ireland – amid new turmoil along the border created by Brexit – and attempts to reconnect with her older sister Lauren (played by Nora-Jane Noone).

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

Where to watch it: The film is currently on ‘tour’ to local cinemas in Northern Ireland. Find out where you can see it here.

ordinary love



ordinary love

Starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love came out in 2019 and quietly went about its business, not really generating much attention.

Despite this, the Belfast-based romantic drama was easily one of the best films ever made here, featuring Neeson and Manville giving some of their best performances ever.

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

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

An eternal piece



An eternal piece

An American comedy film directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson, composed by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer, and costing – according to reports – £14 million to make, An eternal piece was a box office bomb that tells the unlikely story of two wig salesmen, one Catholic and the other Protestant, who live in war-torn Belfast in the 1980s.

A complete failure, there were allegations that its release in cinemas had been intentionally sabotaged by British officials, due to its “sympathetic depiction” of the IRA.

It all sounds like a fever dream give peace to my head character, but believe it or not, it’s real. And even more amazingly, the movie itself isn’t that bad. If you can excuse some bad accents and have a taste for the weird, you’re in for a treat.

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