Edinburgh International Film Festival ceases trading with immediate effect

The charity which runs the Edinburgh International Film Festival has called in the administrators after facing a “perfect storm of sharply rising costs, in particular energy costs”.

The Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) – which also runs two independent cinemas in Edinburgh and Aberdeen – said it has also seen trade reduce due to the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

CMI confirmed it has appointed Tom MacLennan and Chad Griffin of FRP Advisory as joint administrators.

As a result, it said the film festival and the two cinemas – the Filmhouse Cinema and Cafe Bar in Edinburgh and the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen – will cease trading with immediate effect.

Nicola Sturgeon said her Government will do all it can to support the “important cultural organisations”.

Addressing the announcement from CMI during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, she said the closures are of “huge concern” and will leave many “profoundly upset”.

The Scottish Government will do “everything possible” to support the impacted organisations, she added.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival was established in 1947, making it the world’s oldest continually running film festival.

Creative director Kristy Matheson at the launch of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival (Jane Barlow/PA)
Creative director Kristy Matheson at the launch of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival (Jane Barlow/PA)

Over the years, stars including Clint Eastwood, Sir Sean Connery, John Huston, Gene Kelly, Jennifer Lawrence, Tilda Swinton, Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, David Cronenberg and Cate Blanchett have attended its events.

The festival has also screened a host of UK premieres, including movies such as Blade Runner, Alien, Back To The Future, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, Withnail & I, The Usual Suspects, Amelie and The Hurt Locker.

CMI said that even with the recently announced energy price cap for businesses, bills were rising by about £200,000 over the next 12 months.

The price cap is only in place for six months and planning for beyond March 2023 was described as “highly uncertain”.

Payroll costs are also due to increase by just over 10% in the coming year, but the charity said public funding “has been standstill or reducing for over eight years and had been reducing in real terms value throughout that period”.

It said surveys have found “only 57% of cinema audiences have come back to the cinema since the pandemic, with older audiences less likely to have returned”.

The CMI added the increasing popularity of streaming services has given people “greater choice of what to watch at home, and has led to people getting out of the habit of coming to the cinema”, while the cost of living has affected people’s spending decisions.

In a statement, the CMI board said: “We have been proud to have led the CMI through incredibly challenging times, and in particular during the worst days of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the combination of sharply increasing energy and other costs, together with both the lasting impacts of the pandemic and the rapidly emerging cost-of-living crisis affecting cinema attendances, means that we have had no other option but to appoint administrators at this time.

“We would like to put on record our immense gratitude to the entire staff team whose passion for film as an artform and for the audiences and communities we work with and serve has remained undented by the challenges of recent years.

“We’re fully aware that this will be an exceptionally stressful time for them.”