SFIFF55 To Present Founder’s Directing Award To Kenneth Branagh

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The San Francisco Film Societyannounced today that Kenneth Branagh will be the recipient of the Founder’s Directing Award at the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19 – May 3). The FDA will be presented to Branagh at Film Society Awards Night, Thursday, April 26 at the historic Warfield Theatre.

The Film Society and its highly regarded Youth Education program will be the beneficiary of the fundraiser honoring Branagh. The soon-to-be-announced recipients of the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting and the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting will also be honored at the star-studded event. Susie and Pat McBaine and Katie and Todd Traina are chairs of this year’s Film Society Awards Night gala, and Melanie and Larry Blum are the honorary chairs.

“We are thrilled to honor Kenneth Branagh for his remarkable directorial achievements and multifaceted career at this year’s Festival,” said Melanie Blum, the San Francisco Film Society’s interim executive director. “He is in the midst of a much-lauded career that has included a number of the most innovative stagings of Shakespeare’s work ever put to the screen, for which he is best known. A brilliant ensemble comedy and most recently a superhero epic have also benefited from his exceptional skill as an actors’ director.”

Branagh will also be honored at An Evening with Kenneth Branagh at the Castro Theatre at 7:30 pmFridayApril 27. An onstage interview and a selection of clips from his impressive directing career will be followed by a screening of Dead Again (USA 1991, 107 min.). A wise-cracking Los Angeles P.I. (Branagh) stumbles on the case of a lifetime, or two, when he’s asked to help identify a woman suffering amnesia (Emma Thompson), leading both back to a once-notorious now forgotten society murder in this time-tripping psychological thriller, the spellbinding second feature from this year’s multifaceted Founder’s Directing Award recipient.

Branagh is one of the world’s most consistently acclaimed filmmakers. As an actor and director, his work is trademarked by quality, truth and passion. While he first garnered accolades in 1989 for his charismatic channeling of Shakespeare in his universally lauded film version ofHenry V — which he adapted, starred in and directed and which was nominated for two Academy Awards — and has been dedicated to presenting Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing, SFIFF 1993) to contemporary audiences ever since, Branagh has also made his mark with unforgettable turns as an actor and director of non-Elizabethan fare including the commercial hit Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Robert De Niro, the ensemble comedyPeter’s Friends, a film of Mozart’s opera The Magic Fluteand Sleuth, written by Harold Pinter and starring Jude Law and Michael Caine.

Branagh is currently receiving a lot of attention for last year’s Academy Award-nominated performance as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn, a role based on the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during a film production. This marks Branagh’s fifth career Academy Award nomination, making him the first person to receive five nominations in five separate categories (Actor, Supporting Actor, Director, Screenplay and Live Action Short). Also in 2011 Branagh released the Marvel action adventure Thor, which he directed. To date, the film has grossed more than $450 million worldwide.

The Founder’s Directing Award is presented each year to a master of world cinema and is given in memory of Irving M. Levin, visionary founder of the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1957. It is made possible by Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston. The award was first bestowed in 1986 on iconic filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, and for many years carried his name.

The award has brought many of the world’s most visionary directors to the San Francisco International Film festival over the years. Previous recipients are Oliver Stone, USA; Walter Salles, Brazil; Francis Ford Coppola, USA; Mike Leigh, England; Spike Lee, USA; Werner Herzog, Germany; Taylor Hackford, USA; Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia/USA; Robert Altman, USA; Warren Beatty, USA; Clint Eastwood, USA; Abbas Kiarostami, Iran; Arturo Ripstein, Mexico; Im Kwon-Taek, Korea; Francesco Rosi, Italy; Arthur Penn, USA; Stanley Donen, USA; Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal; Ousmane Sembène, Senegal; Satyajit Ray, India; Marcel Carné, France; Jirí Menzel, Czechoslovakia; Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA; Robert Bresson, France; Michael Powell, England; and Akira Kurosawa, Japan.

For tickets and information for Film Society Awards Night only call 415-561-5049 or email

Tickets An Evening with Kenneth Branagh $24 for SFFS members, $30 for the general public. Box office opens March 19 for SFFS members online at and in person at SF Film Society Cinema (1746 Post Street, Webster/Buchanan). Box office opens March 21 for the general public. Festival Premier Package on sale March 27, visit for details.

For tickets and information visit

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1 Comment

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