Campaign to save international film festival and cinema launched

At the beginning of October, the EIFF and two Filmhouses in the capital and Aberdeen closed with immediate effect.

Campaign launched in bid to save Edinburgh International Film Festival and Filmhouse cinema STV News

A campaign has launched to save the Edinburgh’s International Film Festival (EIFF) and Filmhouse cinema after the charity behind them collapsed into administration. 

At the beginning of October, the EIFF and two Filmhouses in the capital and Aberdeen closed with immediate effect.

Kristy Matheson, the creative director of this year’s EIFF, and Rod White, head of programming at Filmhouse were among those who backed the launch of the campaign on October 31.

From 9pm on Monday, images from Filmhouse favourites such as Gregory’s Girl, The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Local Hero were projected on to city landmarks in Edinburgh to express public shock at the loss of Filmhouse and EIFF.

The images carried messages including A Cinema is the Heart of a City; EIFF and Filmhouse: Windows on Worlds; Love Filmhouse, and EIFF and Filmhouse: Places of Imagination.  

Other images included those of Tilda Swinton in Orlando, the animation The Illusionist which is set in Edinburgh, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the classic The Seven Samurai, the Bill Douglas Trilogy which was filmed in Newcraighall, and filmmakers Agnes Varda and Spike Lee.

The charity behind the EIFF and filmhouses, the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI),  appointed administrators in a move blamed on a “perfect storm” of “sharply increasing costs”, reduced audiences following the pandemic and the rising cost of living.

Filmmaker, former EIFF director and Edinburgh resident Mark Cousins, who conceived the projections, said: “The campaign will bring together interested people across the city and further afield to lobby, monitor developments, advocate, share information, ensure transparency and fundraise.”  

Ms Matheson added: “Independent cinemas bring light and joy to local communities.  A space for us to be together, commune with great directors, be energised by new voices and take comfort in knowing that no matter what the day has thrown, you can take yourself to the cinema, see familiar faces at the box office, and settle into your favourite seat to journey someplace new and emerge with your emotional tank refuelled – vive le cinéma!”

Mr White said: “The notable silver lining to the dark cloud of CMI’s demise and Filmhouse’s closure has been the outpouring of love for the cinema and EIFF, and the clear determination of an awful lot of people to do something about it.”

More than 22,000 people have signed an online petition to save the organisations and Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse after more than 100 jobs were lost earlier this month.

The petition was launched by filmmaker Paul Sng alongside Amanda Rogers of film events company Cinetopia.

Mr Sng said: “Cinemas have provided me with extraordinary experiences since I was four years old. 

“They are a doorway of perception to explore the human condition; I find great joy in watching a film on a big screen in the dark with an audience. 

“It’s vital that independent cinemas such as Filmhouse exist to provide us with the opportunity to experience films this way.”

Ms Rogers added: “The Filmhouse was one of the first places I visited when I first came to Edinburgh and a huge draw for me to move to this city. 

“Over the years, it has become so much more than that for me and many others who are part of the film community here. It’s an essential cultural hub and one of the only exhibition spaces which showcased the work and curation of countless local and UK-wide film festivals, filmmakers, and independent exhibitors to local audiences.”

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