Edinburgh Filmhouse and International Film Festival: Fears grow for this bastion of independent cinema – Scotsman comment

News that a bid for Edinburgh’s Filmhouse which would have preserved it as a cinema has been rejected by the administrators is bleak news for the city and Scotland.

An image from romantic comedy film Gregory’s Girl was projected onto the Filmhouse in Edinburgh as part of the campaign to save it (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)
An image from romantic comedy film Gregory’s Girl was projected onto the Filmhouse in Edinburgh as part of the campaign to save it (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)

Gregory Lynn, owner of the Prince Charles Cinema in London, was told he had been “substantially” outbid by another party. Meanwhile, an attempt by former Filmhouse staff to crowdfund enough donations to buy the building has raised less than ten per cent of the £2 million target.

It is possible that someone is keeping quiet about their plan to ride to the rescue. However, with the building marketed as a “unique leisure and development opportunity”, it seems more likely that its prime location on Lothian Road will now see it converted into something more lucrative.

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If this is to be its fate, it could prove to be a fatal blow to the idea of the Filmhouse, a bastion of independent and world cinema, given the difficulties in starting from scratch elsewhere. And it will also raise huge concern over the future of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which was based there and run by the same arts charity, the Centre for the Moving Image, before it went into administration.

The Film Festival has played a significant role in the world of film and Scottish cultural life ever since it was founded in 1947, the same year as Edinburgh International Festival, championing the likes of Ingmar Bergman, who had UK premieres of five of his films at consecutive festivals from 1957 to 1961, and more recent filmmaking talents like Bill Forsyth and Danny Boyle. The loss of the Filmhouse and the festival would be most keenly felt.

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