New cinema complex ‘will be 21st century temple for film’

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland

Plans for a new £50 million cinema complex that would become the home for the Edinburgh International Film Festival have been unveiled.

The new Edinburgh Filmhouse would feature six screens, allowing the festival to showcase more movies.

Also proposed are a new festival centre, where events can take place year round, as well as a cultural industries hub, a cafe/bar and a rooftop events space.

A screen in the current Filmhouse (David Cheskin/PA)

Film festival bosses hailed the planned new building as a “21st century temple for film” and said it would “transform what we’re able to do for Edinburgh’s residents and Scotland’s film community”.

The eye-shaped design of the new building is said reflect the eye on the world that the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and other events there will provide.

The building – which has been designed by award-winning Edinburgh based Richard Murphy Architects – would be located in Festival Square and take the place of the current Filmhouse on nearby Lothian Road, which opened in 1979.

Because of the the significance of the project, a public consultation on the plans is taking place for 12 weeks to June 3.

Filmhouse wants to hear from the Scottish film sector, residents, community groups and others before applying for planning permission after that.

While full costs for the project have still to be worked out, the total bill for the new building is estimated to be in the region of £50 million.

It is hoped construction could start in 2023, with the new cinema then open to the public in 2025.

Ken Hay, CEO of Centre for the Moving Image, which incorporates the Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival, said: “For more than 40 years, Filmhouse has been at the centre of Edinburgh’s cultural life, and for more than 70 years Edinburgh International Film Festival has been an international beacon for film and film culture.

“This proposed new building will transform what we’re able to do for Edinburgh’s residents and Scotland’s film community, as well as providing Scotland with a physical celebration of the most popular art form.

“Through doubling the number of screens and seats for regular cinema-goers, creating dedicated education and learning spaces, and developing an iconic festival centre, all within a fully accessible and carbon neutral building, this really is a 21st century temple for film.”

He added: “We are hugely excited about sharing this vision during the consultation period and are looking forward to engaging with as many people as we can in helping us shape the future for Filmhouse and lovers of film.”

Sandy Begbie, chairman of the Centre for the Moving Image, said: “These are very exciting times for the Filmhouse – the opportunity to create a new home for film in Edinburgh, with a landmark building in the city centre.

“This will provide a new state of the art home for Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival but at its heart this is for the citizens of Edinburgh and Scotland and the entire film industry.”