Rights acquired

Hopes rise for return of Edinburgh film festival

The film festival featured stars such as Kelly Macdonald (pic: Terry Murden)

Edinburgh International Film Festival is expected to go-ahead next year amid hopes that the city’s Filmhouse cinema will reopen.

The rights to the festival’s name are understood to have been acquired, possibly by Creative Scotland, and there is interest in buying and reopening the Filmhouse building on Lothian Road which is now being marketed for sale.

Hopes rose that a rescue deal could be put together amid concern that the loss of the venue and annual festival would leave a big hole in the city’s cultural calendar.

The festival, the Filmhouse and Aberdeen’s Belmont cinema closed last month with the loss of 105 jobs after the charity that runs them, the Centre for the Moving Image, called in FRP Advisory as administrators.

The closure was blamed on rising costs and a rise in the popularity of home streaming as filmgoers found alternative ways to enjoy movies during lockdown.

There has been little comment from the Scottish government but funds are being raised by enthusiasts who want to see public access to film continue.

Mark Cousins, a former festival director, told The Times that he did not mind losing what was not a purpose-made cinema, but it was important to retain the cultural programme.

“A city of Edinburgh’s size really needs a resource like this. Look at venues like Home in Manchester, Watershed in Bristol, Chapter in Cardiff. Edinburgh needs something nourishing like Filmhouse for the long term.”

He added: “It would be an embarrassment for a city of this size not to have a filmhouse.”

Creative Scotland said it was still negotiating with administrators for the Centre for the Moving Image “to explore options for cultural cinema programme activity in both Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as well as a 2023 edition of the Edinburgh’s film festival.”

It said: “With the Filmhouse building being offered for sale by the administrators, we hope a buyer can be found who will continue operating the building as a cultural cinema.”

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