Filmhouse has always been more than a cinema; it’s also a symbol and a celebration of the brilliance and diversity of the art of film and the power of the cinematic experience to change the way we look at life.
We describe Filmhouse’s programme as ‘handpicked’. Most other cinemas choose their films based on a combination of what scale of audience they might anticipate and the need and wish to be supportive of those supplying the films: the film distributors. While these considerations also figure for us as well, our primary concern is for the audience, and matching our programme to the needs of those demanding a more diverse, varied and thoughtful international cinema than might be the norm at the multiplex, with less of a focus on ‘entertainments’ (though we are as keen on entertainments made with originality, intelligence and wit as the next person!) than on films that might be trying to say something, be it emotionally, culturally or cinematically. Many of these films are simply ‘failed’ by the marketplace (in that there is unlikely to be enough income from them to interest purely commercial cinema operators) and that’s where Filmhouse comes in: it is part of our remit to grow audiences for these films.
With between 600-900 films released annually, our Programming team watch 400+ new films every year for consideration for our programmes – from titles from high-profile distributors, to approaches made to us by the filmmakers themselves. Beyond screening new releases, we make it possible for audiences to discover the wealth of brilliant cinema across the decades of the world’s most popular art form that you cannot find easily in other cinemas, which takes its place in our programmes as restorations, rereleases and retrospectives.
Alongside our own programme, Filmhouse works with more than 100 partner organisations and festivals each year, which make up a key element of Filmhouse, Belmont and Edinburgh International Film Festival’s programmes. From Dead by Dawn to IberoDocs, Scotland Loves Anime to Take One Action, and the Folk Film Gathering to Fokus Film Festival, Filmhouse offers a breadth of choice that is unrivalled in Scotland.
Benefit of more cinema screens
Our proposal for the Future of Filmhouse doubles our available cinema spaces, from three screens with 449 seats to six screens with 900 seats, including a unique auditorium with retractable seating, offering flexibility in the type of screening experience and a space that can be used for different types of events.
Currently, we struggle to physically fit in all the films we want to show, and we’re particularly stretched from September to March when many of our partner festivals take place, in June when Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place, and across Thursday to Saturday evening screenings. This means we cannot show all the films we’d like to programme, we can often only show films for short programme runs, and we are unable to accommodate other events, workshops, talks or conferences that we or our partners would like to run.
The new Filmhouse will give us significantly more space and flexibility for our programme, allowing the FIlmhouse team to bring you even more brilliant cinema, support arts and cultural partners, to provide a place for their screenings and events, and increase our capacity to screen more experimental cinema, and offer more accessible screenings for audiences with different access needs.
Cinema-going continues to rise in popularity and plays a key role in energising town and city high streets and communities. Edinburgh’s population is set to grow significantly over the next two decades and it is predicted to become Scotland’s largest city, as well as its Capital City, by the mid 2030s. Filmhouse intends to play a leading role in ensuring the people of Edinburgh have access to the very best cinema experience and quality of programming. We have experienced some fantastic audience attendance figures in recent years and more than 4,000 children took part in our schools activity in 2019. Imagine what more we could achieve with the resources and space the new building would provide.
Benefit of Cultural Industries Hub
A new Cultural Industries Hub in the Filmhouse would provide much needed office-based working and meeting spaces that could be used on a temporary or long term basis by colleagues and partners in the sector. This hub of activity would create opportunities to collaborate and build networks, helping to promote an informed and ambitious community of film and creative industry people, projects and organisations.
Benefit of dedicated space for Education & Learning activities
Currently the Filmhouse does not have a dedicated space for its education and learning activities and we often have to rent spaces elsewhere. Almost all activities have to take place in our cinemas in the morning before the public screenings start, in small meeting rooms or in the Café Bar, none of which are ideal for group working, making and for the creative-thinking and analysis that we aim to promote. The lack of space is even more evident at busy times such as during festivals at Filmhouse, times that would otherwise be ideal focuses for education and learning activities.
The new building offers two larger flexible spaces that would support these types of activities allowing us accommodate schools and other learning activities at all times of the day, and to easily move groups between the cinemas and event spaces as required. This would significantly increase the quantity of quality of activities the Filmhouse could offer.