Curtain Closes on Edinburgh’s Film House as Culture Calamity Continues

By Nidhi Bhavsar (she/her)

The Edinburgh Filmhouse shut down on October 6 this year due to financial difficulties, causing 102 job losses. The Centre for Moving Images (CMI) was a film charity that ran the Filmhouse, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen. According to CMI, a ‘perfect storm’ of the cost of living crisis, increased operating costs and a reduction in people visiting cinemas due to the pandemic resulted in the charity’s liquidation and subsequent closure of Edinburgh Filmhouse and the Belmont.

The Film Festival has an illustrious past and Edinburgh locals held the Filmhouse dear to their hearts. A vigil was held on the 12th of October at the Filmhouse. Film fans gathered outside to light candles and show their support. A petition on in support of saving the independent cinemas affected neared 25,000 signatures.

Edinburgh Council is attempting to revive the Filmhouse. They reportedly reached out to Creative Scotland and the Government for help regarding the charity. Councillors across parties agreed that a trust to ‘co-ordinate donated funds’ would be the best course of action for the Filmhouse and Film Festival.

Rising energy costs due to reopening economies post-pandemic and the Ukraine invasion has impacted such independent theatres. Increased staffing costs, the aftershocks of Brexit, dropping ticket prices and reluctant audiences due to low income are just a handful of contributing factors to our country’s culture crisis.

Museums have also taken a hit from COVID. The Strutt North Mill Museum, one of the Derwent Valley Mills, given UNESCO World Heritage Status in Derbyshire also shut down in April. It’s one of many museums that have either been forced to close, face budget cuts or downsize staff and collections. Libraries across Scotland have also closed. Independent cinema and other regions of the art world are slowly picking up the pieces from crisis after crisis hitting the UK, a sentiment shared by citizens throughout the nation. While efforts are being put into reviving the Edinburgh Filmhouse and International Film Festival, only the future will tell what is in store.