Edinburgh’s secret cinema hosts festival fundraiser this weekend to renovate one of Capital’s oldest cinemas

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The New Town cinema, that’s remained largely unknown for the last 90 years, is welcoming the public into their bespoke premises this weekend

An Edinburgh cinema which has been hiding in plain sight in the Capital’s New Town since the late 1930s is welcoming the public in this weekend as part of fundraising efforts to restore the space and recruit members for their film making society.

Established in 1936, the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society (ECVS) is a collective of film makers who meet weekly to discuss film and collaborate on projects at their basement premises on Fettes Row.

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On Sunday, August 27, in a bid to raise funds to refurbish the near 90-year-old cinema, the society is hosting their New Town Family Film Festival, where the public and aspiring film makers can meet society members, watch films across two New Town locations as well as attend a film themed BBQ at nearby East Circus Gardens.

Located at 23a Fettes Row, the basement cinema has been home to the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society since the early 1930sLocated at 23a Fettes Row, the basement cinema has been home to the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society since the early 1930s
Located at 23a Fettes Row, the basement cinema has been home to the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society since the early 1930s

Gordon Guthrie, ECVS committee member, said: “We’re trying to get the word out that there is a club here that makes films which I don’t think many people know. Since the 1930s the club has made around 600 films but during Covid things slowed down. But now we have three films in production so we’re trying to get back into the swing of making films.

"More films are being made now than ever before because of TikTok and smartphones and we’d like to connect with that generation and get people who make short TikToks to create short films and maybe even feature films – we want people to come in and start experimenting and making films. And then ideally you can watch it on the big screen.”

As part of the New Town Family Film Festival this weekend, visitors can book to see a selection of films at the ECVS base on Fettes Row, from family favourite, Gulliver’s Travels to zombie classic Night of The Living Dead.

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A make shift mini cinema has also been constructed around the corner on Howe Street where guests can enjoy black and white silent films accompanied by live music the club’s in-house orchestra. There will also be tea, coffee and home baking on offer at the club and younger guests can enjoy a BBQ, movie themed children’s parade and bouncy castle at neighbouring East Circus Gardens.

For budding film makers who want to learn about green screen techniques there will also be a workshop at the society’s New Town studio in the afternoon. For a full list of events, times and information on how to get tickets you can visit the ticket tailor website.

Ahead of the society’s new season, that begins in October, the society are keen to recruit new members who have an interest in a range of disciplines from script writing, directing, and cinematography, to costume design, animation, and sound engineers just to name a few. For more information about the society you can visit the organisation’s website.

Stewart Emm, ECVS secretary, said: “We are hoping that the fundraiser will allow us to soundproof the floor of the film theatre here and to improve the amenities of the club room as a whole. We have formulated a programme that runs from October to May next year where members learn how to make films. We start with how to write a script and how to translate a script into action, blocking the films, what type of equipment to use and then club members start to make their own small productions.”

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“We’re getting a lot of freelancers and people that work in film production who come along to our meeting on Thursday to meet like-minded people so it helps them but it helps us as well.”

The New Town Family Film Festival takes place this Sunday August 27 between 12 and 4pm.

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