Sir Kenneth Branagh takes on arts role in Northern Ireland
Sir Kenneth Branagh has vowed to inspire young people in Northern Ireland to get involved in the arts after being named as a film charity's new ambassador for the region.
The Belfast born actor, writer and director is teaming up with Into Film, a lottery-backed charity which uses film as an educational tool in and out of the classroom.
"I'm delighted to be an ambassador for Into Film in Northern Ireland, and keen to highlight what a wonderful resource it can be for young people in a country very close to my heart," he said.
"Film is an accessible and powerful medium. It can reach young people from every walk of life and inspire them to want to learn and achieve more. I hope I can assist with promoting the education opportunities that Into Film provides in Northern Ireland, and getting as many young people as possible inspired by great films."
As well as being a recipient of Lottery funding distributed by film charity BFI, Into Film is further supported by Stormont's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure via Northern Ireland Screen.
Working with children and young people aged between five and 19, it attempts to place film at the heart of educational and personal development.
Actors Eddie Redmayne and Michael Sheen are among its other ambassadors.
Branagh first worked with the charity when he hosted a special screening of his film Cinderella earlier this year, with the proceeds benefiting Into Film and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.
Into Film chief executive Paul Reeve said: "It's wonderful that Kenneth Branagh has become an ambassador for Into Film and will be supporting the important work we're doing in Northern Ireland, and across the UK.
"I know he shares our passion for providing children and young people with access to exciting cultural and educational opportunities that in many cases they might not otherwise receive. Kenneth has a superb body of work in the cinema as both filmmaker and actor, and we hope that his involvement in Into Film will not only inspire children and young people, but also their teachers to make film a central, dynamic element of the educational experience."
The charity's annual three-week long Into Film Festival will run from November 4 to 20, with 98 screenings and events taking place in Northern Ireland.
"I'm thrilled to support the Into Film Festival," added Sir Kenneth.
"It's an incredible opportunity for young people in Northern Ireland to experience the cinema and be immersed in a film or a discussion. The fact that they could watch something that they would not necessarily consider seeing on their own - all for free - is a truly magnificent offer. I hope that young people and teachers in Northern Ireland take advantage of the Into Film Festival and come away with a head full of new insights, ideas and an invigorated passion for film."