Belfast Telegraph

Cinderella director Kenneth Branagh makes plea for Belfast Festival funds

By Amanda Ferguson

Sir Kenneth Branagh has hit out at cuts to the arts sector in Northern Ireland at a charity screening of his latest project - Cinderella.

The Belfast-born actor and director, who was at the Movie House Cinema on the Dublin Road in the city to showcase the new Disney film, said he was worried about the impact on funding cuts to arts organisations.

The 54-year-old hopes the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's will survive after the university announced last week it was withdrawing £129,000 of annual funding, which represents 13% of the event's income.

Branagh said the festival makes an "enormous difference to the cultural landscape".

"Queen's I think has always been varied and interesting, often dazzling in what it presents," he told BBC Northern Ireland.

"I think it's a disappointment and it's worrying and I hope that something can be done to secure the future of the festival.

"I know what that festival does, and what these kinds of festivals can do I think is remarkable, not just for presenting interesting work but also in the sense of showing another part of the lifeblood of the city and the heartbeat of the city creatively."

Cinderella gets its UK and Ireland cinema release on Friday.

The proceeds of yesterday afternoon's Belfast premiere will go the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (Nicva), of which Branagh is honorary president and also Into Film, a industry charity for children and young people.

Nicva chief executive Seamus McAleavey spoke of the importance of Branagh's support for the organisation.

"The reason Ken supports Nicva is he saw it as a way he could support a very broad range of community and voluntary groups in Northern Ireland and he has done that for 16 years as honorary president," he said.

"Prior to that, he also did some support work and with movies that he directs he always tries to have a premiere in Belfast and Nicva always get half the proceedings and another charity generally in the arts or theatre or movie world will get the other half.

"It's absolutely great that somebody like him, who has been away from Northern Ireland for quite a while, who is very busy in his career, actually still thinks and cares about the place.

"It certainly has helped Nicva."

Branagh told the Belfast Telegraph he hears great stories about the film industry in Northern Ireland and hopes to be part of its continued success in the near future.

"It is an amazing success story," he said. "I hope to be part of it in some future chapter."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph