In “Belfast,” writer-director Kenneth Branagh looks back on his childhood, when The Troubles erupted in 1969 Ireland and shook his world. The film presents his family’s experience through the eyes of 9-year-old Buddy (newcomer Jude Hill), who portrays a young Branagh during this tumultuous time.

“Compassion was the point of view that we wanted to apply to this very complicated situation,” Branagh told senior entertainment writer Angelique Jackson in Variety’s streaming room, presented by Focus Features. “It’s a very human and humane position from which to watch a family, which hopefully many people can recognize, deal with events that really we’re not trained to deal with… Everybody has their relationship to it.”

Members of “Belfast’s” cast, many of whom are from Ireland, expressed that the stories woven into the film felt deeply personal.

“We slipped very gently into another world, into another time,” said Ciarán Hinds (Pop), who, like Branagh, is originally from Belfast. “Perhaps [with] the ghosts of our forefathers or the spirits of where we came from.”

In portraying Ma, Caitríona Balfe added that she thought about her mother — who faced different circumstances than her character in the film, but also “had to leave her family, and her safety net, and go towards the border when I was a child [during The Troubles]… It just spoke to me in such a personal way.”

The same way the cast found parallels between their own experiences and Branagh’s script, the filmmaker needed to find himself in Hill — who bested 300 young boys in auditions to earn the role of Buddy.

“Me and Buddy can relate a lot,” noted Hill. “I saw myself in those pages of that first draft of the script, and… I immediately fell in love with it.”

“Belfast” also pays homage to the art of cinema. One place Branagh and his family found solace during The Troubles was the movie theater — and throughout this film, the writer-director sends his characters to the cinema so that they can experience the wonder of movies, watching films starring Raquel Welch, and, in a particularly memorable sequence, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” During this scene, the family is captivated by the experience of the movie, leaning so far forward in their seats that they begin to feel as if they’re flying alongside the characters onscreen.

“It was about celebrating the fact that, even if only in the imagination, going to the cinema was a way of escaping… [In this case], it’s a flying car, it literally takes you away, over the clouds,” said Branagh.

The cinema scenes mirrored Jamie Dornan’s (Pa) childhood, whose family was particularly fond of one comedic superstar.

“The only time we ever went to the pictures, all of us, was a Steve Martin film,” he recalled. “I loved him. And in that sort of late ’80s to mid-90s period, when he was like white hot, was a good time to be going to see movies of his.”

Dornan recently found himself carrying on the family tradition, showing his 8-year-old daughter Martin’s 1979 comedy “The Jerk” on YouTube.

“I showed our [her]the scene where he’s leaving the house and he’s grabbing all the stuff,” he shared. “For me, that’s some of the best physical comedy in the world, what he does in that scene.”

Hill has found similar joys at the movies — both through the young actor’s work on the screen and in admiring his favorite films of today, which recently includes “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” When the cast was on the road a few weeks ago in Paris, Hill’s co-star Jamie Dornan (Pa) introduced him to Tom Holland.

“‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ was the first film that made me tear a bit… It’s a work of art,” said Hill. “As soon as [Holland] walked past us, I realized who he was.”

Hear more from Branagh and the cast (Hill, Dornan, Balfe and Hinds) on their favorite memories creating “Belfast” — including some behind the scenes details about the “Everlasting Love” song and dance number — in the conversation above.