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A possible rescue plan for Edinburgh’s Film Festival

A few weeks ago I wrote about the shocking and sudden closure of the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), which incorporated the Edinburgh Filmhouse, Aberdeen Belmont Filmhouse, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. This was barely a few weeks after I had been at the 75th edition of the festival, filing reports here on LFF from it, and now, just like that the world’s oldest, continually-running film festival was gone, along with my favourite cinematic home, and over a hundred dedicated staff were suddenly redundant.

Since then there have been attempts to rescue both the cinema and the festival – a Crowdfunder campaign ( ) is still running, and shares and support are very much appreciated. I’ve chucked in a little myself, as have many others in a short period of time, but it really needs big backers (come one film industry figures, we are looking at you) in any attempt to raise enough to purchase the Filmhouse from the administrators.

There was a glimmer of hope for the festival this week, however – Screen Scotland announced that they have been in talks with the administrators about trying to keep the film festival alive and returning in 2023. Rather than just paraphrase, I’ll simply quote their update:

Screen Scotland has purchased the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s IP (intellectual property) from CMI’s administrators, FRP Advisory, including domain name and brand assets, to be provided as appropriate to a future operator of the festival.

An options appraisal is also underway for a film festival in Edinburgh in 2023. This appraisal is being led by Kristy Matheson, who was Creative Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2022, alongside colleagues. They will be supported by the Edinburgh International Festival, who have also provided the team with office space at the Hub, in Edinburgh.

The work will be funded with an award of up to £97,647 from Creative Scotland. This funding is drawn from the 2022/23 Regular Funding Awards originally allocated to the CMI.

It is anticipated that the options appraisal will be completed by the end January 2023, and further announcements will be made, as appropriate, after that time.

Now, of course, nothing is set in stone yet, but fingers crossed we can get at least this much pulled off. We would desperately want the Filmhouse back too, but realistically that requires far more resources and funds, where the festival really requires some office space for planning and meeting, and the use of some other cinemas in the city, which is something they have always done already, albeit the Filmhouse was the home base and screened the lion’s share of the EIFF slate (and it would feel so wrong not to be watching film fest screenings without the Filmhouse), so my personal thoughts are that with a lot of work and luck and help, this is feasible, and fingers crossed, I will be filing reports from next year’s festival on here. I’m also pleased to see one of the city’s other major festivals offering support and office space. As our arts and cultural institutions and venues continue to struggle, that sort of cross-cooperation will be needed, and, of course, support from those of us who love the arts. More when we hear it.

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