Birthday Fundraising Project 2020
In 2020 the Ken-Friends celebrated Kenneth Branagh's 60th birthday with a donation of $4,400 US, raised to support students from Northern Ireland under The William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). The sum collected came from the proceeds of a series of online auctions on the Ken-Friends mailing list offering items related to Kenneth Branagh's artistic production over the many years of his career and from additional donations by Ken-Friends. The Ken-Friends total contribution to RADA over the years has amounted to $62,126, with $58,577 going to the Branagh bursary.

Here is Kenneth Branagh's thank-you:

It is often in a wet and windy January, (like the day today), where I get the chance to fully savour and appreciate the astonishing kindness of the birthday tributes paid by the Ken Friends.

So, it is this year, in which the first response I find myself having, as I once again view this rich collection of messages, is ďHow on earth are you all?Ē.

Itís been such a heck of a year for everyone, that it really seems remarkable that you found the resources to make yet another massive donation to funds at RADA (never more needed or appreciated), and also have space in your minds and hearts, to offer me such generous advice and support.
I appreciate both deeply. Thank you.

And I very, very much hope that you and yours, have coped and are coping with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, with as much joy (and good health), as you can find.
All of your individual messages, all of which I have read with great pleasure, I found inspiring.

A constant theme was the instruction to do work that makes me happy, that I care about, that follows my own heart.
This I have done, treading as warily through our Covid world as I could.

The result is a film called BELFAST, which is as personal as such things can be, and as deeply from the heart as such things can be, and (mixed in with some of lifeís tough experiences), comes with as much joy as can be.

Pandemics allowing, it should arrive in cinemas around the world, in the second half of 2021. I worked with a very special group of collaborators and Iím extremely proud of the film that we managed to produce. I hope you will like it, and I hope that as it rolls out around the Globe (fingers crossed), I may have the chance to encounter some, or all of you personally, somewhere on its travels. I would love that.

It will be in the company of DEATH ON THE NILE, which is a wonderful story from Miss Christie, realised beautiful in a screenplay by Michael Green, and served up by a tip-top cast. It is available in 70mm to watch on the big screen, and once again, I hope it will make its appearance in the second half of the year, at a cinema near you.

I note with pleasure many requests from you for more Shakespeare, with Lear and Prospero at the top of the lists, but with Iím pleased to say, plenty of requests for comedy; Bardic or otherwise. I reckon this is what the world may need a little of right now, so I shall look to pull out my comedy shoes and see if these boots are still made for walking.

Writing BELFAST has most definitely woken my desire to write more, and I was also encouraged by the many Ken Friends who wanted to see that happening too.

If we can just manage to squeeze more hours into the day, maybe weíll manage it all! What's certain is that we shall have some fun trying, and despite the numbers now associated with me in the form of a six and a zero, I am still working very much along the lines of believing that if I feel 23 years old (I do), then anythingís possible. (Note to self - good theory - just donít look in the mirror too early in the day).

Thank you again, Friends.

This can seem like a darkish time for the world.
On my sixtieth Birthday, your kindness, support, love, generosity, and all-round good-eggness made my part of it, quite a bit lighter.
A Happy New Year to you all, from your friend,

Ken


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