A group of former senior staff has unveiled a buy-out bid for the Lothian Road landmark, which went onto the open market earlier this month after its operator went into administration.
Their crowdfunding page describes the Filmhouse as “the bedrock of Edinburgh's film culture for decades” but warns its future is under “grave threat.”
Actor Jack Lowden has thrown his weight behind the bid to secure the former church as an “independent and cultural cinema hub”. The group trying to raise the money say they have received “significant pledges” for the attempted buy-out, which aims to retain the Filmhouse and pave the way for its refurbishment.
They say they hope to attract support from donors from the screen industries and cultural scene across Scotland and beyond. The campaign group involves the Filmhouse's long-time head of programming Rod White, former head technician David Boyd, former programme manager James Rice; former chief executiv Ginnie Atkinson.
Also involved is Jim Dunnigan, chair of the Edinburgh Film Guild, the world’s longest-running film society, which launched the film festival in 1947. The campaign group was formed in the wake of the collapse of the Centre for the Moving Image, the charity which ran both the Filmhouse and the film festival, which had previously proposed creating a “temple of film” in Festival Square.
The group’s crowdfunding page states: “Upkeep and maintenance issues at 88 Lothian Road have been cited over the last 20 years as a motivation for various initiatives to build a new Filmhouse. Such rhetoric serves that ambitious and valid vision, but it's a goal for sunnier times. The current building, if properly refurbished, would be entirely suitable for Filmhouse’ needs, and sufficient for Filmhouse to continue serving Edinburgh, during and beyond the period of economic restraint currently besetting our cultural landscape and society.
“The phrase 'when it's gone, it's gone' is chillingly pertinent. Buying and re-occupying the current building is, by a huge margin, the quickest, simplest and cheapest way to ensure that everything Filmhouse delivers is not lost.”
A spokeswoman for the group said: “A well-publicised crowdfunder is the only way to open up to everyone the opportunity of contributing financially, be it individuals or philanthropic donors - those who care about the continued operation of Filmhouse and who are shocked by the idea of its loss.”
Lowden said: “As a past resident of Edinburgh, never mind as an actor, the idea of our capital losing such an important cultural centre is deeply saddening.
“With the Scottish film industry growing faster and faster, it’s more important than ever to have a truly independent platform in our city. And just as importantly, a welcoming place to have a great night out. The Filmhouse must be saved! Mon the Hoose!”
Mr Dunnigan said: “Filmhouse represents the heart of cinema in Edinburgh and so much more than a building will be lost if it cannot be saved.
“As the most recent home for the Edinburgh Film Guild and the film festival since 1979 it is imperative it is not lost.”