Emotional Christmas film “The Noel Diary”, filmed in Connecticut – Hartford Courant

The new Christmas movie on Netflix could have Connecticut residents doing doubletakes. The Noel Diary was filmed at RJ Julia Bookseller in Madison, Griswold Inn in Essex, New Canaan City Hall, Manchester Memorial Hospital and other locations in Connecticut.

The Noel Diary stars This is Us’ Justin Hartley, as well as James Remar, Bonnie Bedelia, Essence Atkins and Barrett Doss. It can be viewed on Thanksgiving Day. The film, based on the Richard Paul Evans novel, was directed by Charles Shyer, who also directed Private Benjamin and The Parent Trap.

Andrew Gernhard, the film’s producer and founder, has been making Christmas films in Connecticut for about five years. His production company, Rocky Hill-based Synthetic Cinema International, has also been producing creature films here since 2004.

“This is not your typical Christmas novel. It’s more about Christmas than Christmas being the main focus of the story,” Gernhard said. “There are many emotions. People will cry. This is the year of the sad Christmas movie.”

The hospital scenes were filmed at the Manchester Memorial. Gernhard said during filming, only two hospitals in the state were partially closed due to COVID, which would allow filming. The other, Bristol Hospital, was booked by Sigourney Weaver’s abortion drama, Call Me Jane. So Noel Diary got Manchester.

Baylen Bielitz, 8 years old, from Southington with his colleagues "The Noel Diary": From left, James Remar, Justin Hartley and Barrett Doss.
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An 8-year-old boy from Southington plays a small but crucial role in the story. Baylen Bielitz, a third grader at Derynoski School, has been building a film career for several years. He had fun making The Noel Diary.

“I must be in a tree. That was fun. The film was shot in the summer. They had artificial snow everywhere. It smelled good, like cotton balls,” he said.

Next up in Bielitz is “Mothers’ Instinct” with Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain. He portrays Hathaway’s son. Then comes Here Is Yianni! The drama tells the story of a young boy who lives next to an elderly man with Alzheimer’s who loves the child while his memory fades.

“This is my biggest role so far,” said Bielitz.

Bielitz’ other screen credits include a small role in WandaVision and the film Evil.

Bielsko has to wait with the rest of the world to see The Noel Diary. “They had a screening in LA, but they didn’t invite the kids,” he said.

Susan Dunne can be reached at [email protected].