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New Year, New Hope: The fight to save the Belmont continues

Efforts to secure the future of independent cinema in Aberdeen intensify

By Andrew Cardno

photo courtesy of SavetheBelmontCinema

The Belmont Filmhouse was the old reliable of the Aberdeen cinemas. If there was ever a film that was not showing anywhere else, you could always count on it to be there waiting for you.

It was a blow to all Aberdeen cinema goers when the Belmont abruptly closed in October. However, due to the support of local people and businesses, the future is looking a bit brighter for the future of local cinema in Aberdeen.

Luckily for local cinephiles, it seems that this sentiment is shared by the Aberdeen City Council. Sandra Macdonald; the Labour leader of the City Council, said that fast action was needed to save the Belmont.

Additionally, a collective of local cinema lovers and Belmont staff organised the SaveTheBelmontCinema group, aimed at finding a way to reopen the cinema. After a well-attended meeting at Krakatoa in October, a steering group was formed.

The Christmas period brought the community together with a showing of the quintessential Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life, an event that would usually take place in the much-beloved cinema. The evening was hosted by SaveTheBelmontCinema in the University of Aberdeen’s MacRobert Building. This allowed the community to come together in aid of the cinema and urge more people to get involved in the campaign. A fun time was had by all 100 attendees. The event raised a substantial £309 for Instant Neighbour; a charity that supports people on low income and helps them to set up a home, as well as the CMI staff welfare fund.

The New Year has brought new hope for the cinema, with MSPs Maggie Chapman (Greens) and Mercedes Villalba (Labour) questioning the Scottish Government on what options could be available to save the Belmont. One such option would entail the employees of the Belmont taking control or ownership of their workplace.

Chapman stressed the importance of the Belmont not just as an independent cinema but as a place that has been used by community groups and creative organisations for more than 25 years and has helped to bring the people of Aberdeen closer together. Cultural Minister Neil Gray has agreed to meet with the stakeholders and employees of the Belmont Cinema and is looking to secure a future for cultural cinema provision in Aberdeen.

Similarly, Villalba commented on how alarming it was that a building wholly owned by Aberdeen City Council was allowed to go into administration, without the possibility of saving it being discussed. Due to the legal process underway regarding the cinema's parent company CMI, the reasons for the closure are still unknown. However, Gray has agreed to meet with any of CMI’s staff at any stage to see how the government can aid those who are suffering due to the closure.

Overall, the future of the Belmont Cinema is looking up and hopefully, 2023 will see the re-opening of its doors for cinephiles and the public alike. If you want to get involved in the campaign to save the Belmont, you can follow them on Facebook at SaveTheBelmontCinema or on Twitter at @BelmontCinema.


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