Edinburgh’s ‘temple of cinema’ figurehead resigns as festival’s future is considered


Sandy Begbie stepped down from her role as supervisor of the new home of the Filmhouse Cinema and the Edinburgh International Film Festival months after plans for the nine-story building were unveiled.

Mr Begbie, Managing Director of Scottish Financial Enterprise, has stepped down as Chairman of the Center for the Moving Image (CMI), which operates both the festival and the Filmhouse, at a critical time.

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Councilors have yet to vote on the development of Festival Square, which has been criticized by heritage groups on its design and scale.

An announcement for a new president, who will oversee a review of the festival’s future, cites a number of key challenges, including the fact that the existing Filmhouse building is “not fit for purpose”, predicts d ‘an “uncertain financing landscape” for the CMI and cover the cost of the redevelopment.

He reveals that due to the long planning process for the new building, the CMI was “exploring options for interim and long-term solutions” and that a “redesigned” film festival is a priority for 2022.

The CMI, which Mr. Begbie led with CEO Ken Hay, is also in the midst of a management reshuffle, which saw a hiring campaign for a creative director launched in May and a decision not to appoint. a new artistic director for this year. Festival.

The festival has not had an artistic director since Mark Adams stepped down in November 2019. His deputy, Diane Henderson, left earlier this year. The festival is set to take place in a scaled-down ‘hybrid’ form two months later than normal in August following the establishment of a temporary programming team, amid continued uncertainty for cultural events over Covid restrictions which will be in place in August.

It is hoped that the new cinema hall will be open to the public in 2025.

Mr. Begbie, who was unveiled as CMI President in December 2018, said: “I have enjoyed the past three years very much and have been involved in the development of CMI.

“We have accomplished a lot, including strengthening the board of directors, navigating the Covid-19 crisis, restructuring the management team, making plans for a new building as a new one. home for the next stage of our development and initiated a strategic review. of the festival. “

The announcement states: “The combination of an inadequate building, the continued impact of Covid-19 and an uncertain public funding landscape from 2022 presents long-term financial challenges.

“So we’re looking at all aspects of the charity’s costs and revenues to make sure we can continue to meet our long-term charitable goals in a sustainable manner.

Outdoor film screenings would take place on the roof of the new Filmhouse, against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

“The existing Filmhouse building is not suitable for its purpose and is unable to support the achievement of our long-term charitable goals.

“After a long period of investigation, the board’s preferred option is to develop a new movie theater on Festival Square and a full planning request was submitted in December 2020.

“However, the planning process will take time and funding will be difficult. Therefore, the charity continues to explore options for interim and long-term solutions. “

Mr. Hay said: “Our vision of developing a new movie theater in Festival Square remains our goal.

Sandy Begbie took over as President of the Center for the Moving Image in January 2019. Photo: Graham Flack

“However, the uncertainty of the outcome of any planning request means that we must, of course, continually monitor and evaluate alternative options.”

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