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'A full destination for film and food’: possible Belmont bailout sparks hope

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Faffless boss in talks to manage venue as Aberdeen Council ‘explores available options’

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

photo courtesy of Kenny Elrick

Despite the collapse of its parent charity CMI last Thursday, hopes have been raised that the Belmont Filmhouse may survive in some capacity.

Local entrepreneur Craig Thom, known for popular Aberdeen whisky and wine bar Faffless, announced on Facebook that he has engaged in talks with Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council to take over management of the Belmont. Faffless, which is based in Aberdeen’s Netherkirkgate, features an art gallery which highlights local artists.

Thom’s announcement sparked a bevy of comments and suggestions from members of the ‘Save the Belmont Cinema’ Facebook group, which has grown to over 2.5 thousand members since last Thursday. Thom commented on Facebook, ‘The support Faffless has received for trying our best to reopen the space has been amazing and I can't thank you all enough. Let's get it reopen as soon as we can.’

Thom confirmed to The Gaudie that he was exploring a bid to manage the property. He said, ‘We won't be buying the Belmont, the venue itself is owned by the city council, we would just be keeping the filmhouse open under our direction…’

‘We already have experience with bringing art in a relaxed and engaging way,’ he continued, ‘while still being hospitality focused, meaning we could turn the Belmont into a full destination for film and food.’

When asked if he would attempt to retain current staff, Thom remarked, ‘We would do everything we possibly can to help retain all members of staff previously employed at the Belmont.’

Thom told The Gaudie that he was committed to maintaining the unique community spirit which characterised the popular iconic filmhouse. He said, ‘I think that Faffless itself has managed to build a little community for itself already in the short time we've had the space, you get that by being consistently at the top of your game and listening to what the people want, and making that work for your business. I loved going in to the Belmont and the friendly welcome from the staff almost made it feel as though you were coming into an extension of your own home… I'd look to try and keep that welcoming and inclusive feel.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson commented on potential plans for the Belmont, “This will be a very difficult time for employees of the charity, and our immediate focus is to support those directly affected. We are being updated on the developing situation and will work with partners to explore available options.”

The Belmont Filmhouse building has a long association with cinema, first showing a film of Queen Victoria in 1898, two years after it was built. By 1910, it had become a permanent cinema, which it remained for the next forty years before being converted into a warehouse. The current iteration of the Belmont opened in 2000, and has fostered its unique sense of cinematic community ever since, something which Thom is eager to continue.


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