The Edinburgh international film festival has been shut down with immediate effect after the charity that runs it, the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), announced it had ceased trading and called in administrators. Edinburgh’s celebrated Filmhouse cinema, along with its sister cinema in Aberdeen, have also closed.
CMI, which has operated both the film festival and the Filmhouse group since 2010, said in a statement: “The charity is facing the perfect storm of sharply rising costs, in particular energy costs, alongside reduced trade due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. The combination and scale of these challenges is unprecedented and means that there was no option but to take immediate action.”
It added that over the next 12 months the group’s energy costs would rise by £200,000, costs were rising by 10-30% due to inflation, and that audience numbers were 50% below pre-pandemic levels. It said it would also be adversely affected by the ending of government emergency funds and by altered cinemagoing habits of the general public with the increased use of streaming platforms.
The administrators have said that they are looking for buyers for both the Filmhouse cinemas and the Edinburgh international film festival trademark, with the hope that closure will not be permanent. However 102 out of the 107 staff have been made redundant.
The Edinburgh film festival was founded in 1947 by the Edinburgh Film Guild film society, and bills itself as the world’s oldest continually running film festival. In 2008 it moved from its traditional August slot during the wider international festival to June, and the 2020 edition was cancelled due to coronavirus. Its current creative director is Kristy Matheson, who was appointed in 2021.
The Edinburgh Filmhouse was opened in 1979 in a disused former church and had acted as a base for the film festival. CMI had unveiled ambitious plans to move to a new venue in nearby Festival Square but it is now uncertain if this will go ahead.