Filmhouse supporters confident of reopening Edinburgh’s iconic cinema in 2024

A group of former Filmhouse staff and cinema enthusiasts have launched a fundraising campaign to revive the historic art house cinema on Lothian Road, which closed its doors last year after the collapse of its parent charity, the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI).

Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd secures interim lease and major grant

The newly formed charity, Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd, has secured an interim lease with Caledonian Heritable, the owner of the building, to enable a period of fundraising for essential refurbishment works to the cinemas and public areas. Caledonian Heritable, who acquired the building in early 2023, are currently undertaking a programme of upgrades to the fabric and will gift all projection equipment to the new Filmhouse, including the customised analogue 35mm and 70mm projectors.

Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd has also received a major grant of £299,000 from Screen Scotland, the public body that supports film and television in Scotland, to support its planning and development work in the near-term. Screen Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government have been working to secure a future for cultural cinema in the city since the CMI’s collapse in October 2022.

Crowdfunding campaign aims to raise £250,000 by January 2024

As a key step, Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the platform Crowdfunder, aiming to raise £250,000 by the end of January 2024. The campaign has already received over £160,000 in donations from more than 1,850 backers and supporters, with Gift Aid taking the total to over £200,000. The campaign has also attracted high-profile support from a host of film industry figures, such as actors Tilda Swinton, Brian Cox and Mark Cousins, directors Lynne Ramsay, Kevin Macdonald and Ken Loach, and producers Iain Smith and Rebecca O’Brien.

Filmhouse supporters confident of reopening Edinburgh’s iconic cinema in 2024

The crowdfunding campaign is part of a wider fundraising strategy to raise £1.25 million by the end of February 2024, from a number of sources, including trusts and foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors. Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd hopes to enter a 21-year lease with Caledonian Heritable once they have raised sufficient funds to refurbish the cinema and operate it once again as an independent cinema venue celebrating the diversity of filmmaking worldwide.

Filmhouse’s legacy and vision for the future

Filmhouse, which operated successfully as a cinema on Lothian Road from 1979, was known for presenting one of the most ambitious and diverse cinema programmes in the UK, showcasing films from around the world and from its rich history. It was also a nurturing home for myriad film festivals, such as the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Africa in Motion Film Festival and the Take One Action Film Festival, as well as a hub for film education and a community of film lovers and filmmakers.

The re-opened Filmhouse would aim to continue this legacy and develop new audiences in Edinburgh, as well as to support the local film sector and the wider cultural scene. Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd has a vision of creating a world-class cinematheque that would offer a unique cinema experience and a vibrant social space for all.

Ginnie Atkinson, one of the founders of Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd and former CEO of Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival, said: “We have been deeply moved by the huge groundswell of support shown by supporters from Edinburgh and around the world. The strength of feeling is clear; Edinburgh needs a world-class cinematheque. Screen Scotland’s support represents a significant commitment to and endorsement of our plans, and another huge step in realising the dream of reopening Filmhouse.”

Isabel Davis, Executive Director at Screen Scotland, said: “Filmhouse is the iconic centre of cinema culture in Edinburgh, providing a uniquely diverse cinema programme which celebrates film from around the world and from its rich history. Screen Scotland is supporting the return of this vital venue and organisation; one which provides a nurturing home for myriad film festivals, a hub for film education, a home to a community of film lovers and filmmakers and an important cultural resource for the cinema-going public. Screen Scotland is proud to assist with the hoped for revival of this cinematic haven. Its return would signify not just the reopening of a cinema, but the return of a vital home for the artform.”

To support the crowdfunding campaign, visit Filmhouse Edinburgh Crowdfunder.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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