One particularly miserable Edinburgh evening during my first term at university, I walked a four mile round trip in the pouring rain, from my halls of residence to the Fountain Park multiplex. I have never been so wet and sad in my entire life. The next day I recounted the story to an older, wiser second year friend who exclaimed: “there are so many cinemas in this city and you chose Cineworld?!” Over the coming months I was to discover Edinburgh’s wealth of independent arthouses and pinpoint the reason her words were spoken with utter disdain.
The Filmhouse is Edinburgh’s best known independent cinema and proud home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Housed in a former church on Lothian Road, the large building is as impressive as the variety of films it has to offer. Its eclectic programme boasts over seven hundred films and events every year, including the Future Shorts quarterly short film festival. Complete with red curtain and plush seats its main screen is every cinephile’s dream, with two smaller, less comfortable screens fit for more obscure showings.
Just a short walk away on Home Street is the Cameo, part of the Picturehouse group, which celebrated its centenary earlier this year. Its striking sign and vintage billboard provoke a curious nostalgia for an era you never experienced. Not just a beautiful venue, the Cameo is committed to screening lower budget, independent film and specifically a wide range of foreign film. This particular cinema is also home to one of Edinburgh’s best kept student secrets; the first showing of each film on a Wednesday is a mere £3 with a valid student ID, and they also accept Orange Wednesday discount, so you need never complain you can’t afford the cinema again.
Finally, to complete the trio of independent cinemas is The Dominion. Situated just off of the wealthy Morningside Road which is by far the most suitable place for this indulgent cinema. The building smacks of old school cinema vibes; a small entrance, separate booths for tickets and sweets and queues for films are separated with rope and brass stands. Once inside however, the style changes completely. A huge screen opens up with sofas for seats making for a super comfortable viewing environment with plenty of space. This is the cinema for those longer films, especially if you want to treat yourself.