I Am Belfast

Mark Cousins' love-letter to his hometown

Film Review by Rachel Bowles | 22 Feb 2016
Film title: I Am Belfast
Director: Mark Cousins
Starring: Helena Bereen, Richard Buick, Shane McCaffrey
Release date: 8 Apr
Certificate: 15

Mark Cousins is arguably one of the best film essayists of our time, and the kind of thoughtful, gentle and poetic auteur that a city as traumatised and as beautiful as Belfast deserves. Here he uses the imaginative conceit of Belfast as a blonde woman (Helena Bereen) with a golden double-ended clip in her hair (shades of Kim Novak in Vertigo).

I Am Belfast forms a kind of audiovisual reverie around Cousins as narrator conversing with Belfast, and listening to the stories of this interesting, elusive, 10,000-year-old woman. She explains her name means where “salt meets sweet”, and often returns to this image, conveying a city divided by bigotry, walls and colours, slowly healing into a whole of peacefully coinciding, complementary differences. Cousins walked every street of the city gathering footage and sound, and he has a knack for finding beauty and significance in the arbitrary and quotidian; the queer and comical in the tragic. 

I Am Belfast screens HOME, Manchester from 8 Apr. Mark Cousins will attend the screening on 8 Apr, 8.30pm for a Q&A following the film. Tickets here: homemcr.org/film/i-am-belfast