Kristy Matheson, the creator director brought in for this year's festival, and Rod White, long-time head of programming at Edinburgh Filmhouse, are among those backing the launch of the campaign.Images from Filmhouse favourites including The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, The Illusionist and Local Hero were beamed onto Salisbury Crags and other landmarks in the city to herald the official launch of a bid to revive the cultural institutions weeks after their operator was plunged into administration.The arts charity Centre for the Moving Image had raised concerns about a risk of insolvency in mid-September despite receiving more rhan £5 million in government funding since the start of the pandemic.
Declarations of support for the EIFF and the Filmhouse have been added to stills from films by the likes of Bill Douglas, Spike Lee, Agnes Varda, Bill Forsyth and Akira Kurosawa as part of the campaign.
Edinburgh-based filmmaker and former EIFF director Mark Cousins, who instigated 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."
Matheson, who relocated from Australia just over a year ago to take up her EIFF role, said: “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!”
White, who led the Filmhouse programming team for more than 20 years, said: “The notable silver lining to the dark cloud of the 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 calling for the EIF and the Filmhouse cinemas to be saved since they cease trading with immediate effect and the loss of more than 100 jobs in early October.
The petition was launched by filmmaker Paul Sng and Amanda Rogers, founder of Edinburgh-based film events company Cinetopia.
Sng said: “Cinemas have provided me with extraordinary experiences since I was four years old.
"They’re 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.”
Rogers said: “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.
"It’s become so much more 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.”