Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Y’know what really kills me? The loss of a great theater. It’s happened several times to me in various places where I’ve lived, but it’s been most upsetting here in LA. When they destroyed the giant downstairs main house of the Avco in Westwood, it just gutted me, and I still have trouble sitting in either of the miserable shitbox theaters they’ve got downstairs now. The reason I’ve always been able to cope is because I live in a city with a lot of great moviegoing options at pretty much any time. If we lost (god forbid) the Egyptian, I’d cope. It would be terrible, but I’d cope. For many readers, though, you guys don’t live in Austin. Or LA. Or New York. You don’t live in a city where everything plays. When a TV spot says “Opens in Select Cities This Friday,” you say, “Fuck,” because you know your city isn’t select. And I feel for you. I really do. I’ve lived in cities like that for most of my life before moving here, so I get it.
This letter really rang true to me, and I wanted to give this guy the platform to make his case, to allow him a chance to start an effort to stop the closing of another great theater. Check it out. See if it strikes you the same way.
Harry / Drew / Quint,
This is not cool news nor is it yet another "help me with my film/script!" call. It's far more important than that.
In fact, I can't stress the importance of this too much.
The Cameo Cinema has been operating in Edinburgh for over 90 years and in the last few decades has become a centre point for the best films shown in Scotland. It's one of the few places where folks can still go and see new films by guys like Jarmusch, Wes Anderson, Miyazaki, Wenders, Solondz et all. Every weekend night and Sunday afternoon they show a double bill of classic movies. Only a few months ago I was able to catch up with the BFI's tatty old print of "Jaws" (which I love, both the movie and the familiar tattiness of the print) and I was able to check out some old Robert Bresson movies a while back as well which I've not been able to do since I was at university. I can't begin to express how important this cinema is the folks in Edinburgh.
The cinema also serves to host many of the big screenings for the Edinburgh International Film Festival (do I need to repeat what John Huston once said about our wee yearly gathering?). Eastwood premiered "White Hunter Black Heart" here and international filmmakers come here regularly to give screenings and audience Q&A's - I was able to see John Sayles discuss "Silver City" after an audience screening recently. Not the kind of thing the plethora of multiplexes seem disposed to do - hell, even the Edinburgh Filmhouse doesn't seem to do it too often. Bertolluci, Tarantino and Rodriguez, countless others have all been there as well - it's simply the best place for movies in Edinburgh or possibly even the whole of Scotland. Without it, we're screwed.
So, why is this whiny wee Scotsman emailing you guys? Well, because I know how much you all love movies and I know that you're capable of doing through that passion. The company that owns the Cameo is now optioning whether to inexplicably sell the theatre or gut the beautiful main screen and turn it into a bar, keeping the other two tiny screens and turning the present bar into another, even smaller screen. This would probably mean also losing the foyer, which is a beautiful art deco hall and just represents good, old fashioned movie-going.
Provided, of course, they don't choose to just sell the place. We've already lost the Odeon cinema here, which, because of that, now stands derelict.
The last thing the centre of Edinburgh needs is another bloody bar. We're loaded with the things. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm a Scotsman and love a pint, but when it comes down to a pint (which I can get anywhere in this city) or getting to see an old print of "Pickpocket" or "Black Narcissus" then there's no contest. I'm sure you'd agree with me.
This would come as yet another blow to the filmmaking community in Edinburgh as the centre where us poor guerrilla filmmakers hire our equipment, Edinburgh Mediabase, recently went belly up. Once a month, Mediabase would hold a short film programme at the Cameo, called The Blue Room, where anyone who's made a short can get it screened in front of a paying audience. I've had a couple of shorts shown there and I can't tell you how cool it was finally having normal punters watching and enjoying my films. Countless other Scottish filmmakers would say the same. Now Mediabase has gone tits up, there is still a chance The Blue Room may carry on through the people who love it, but not if the Cameo reduces it's screen capacity or, even worse, closes .
So, while I know you guys are thousands of miles away in Austin or LA, we need your help. As I said, I know you love movies, so would you be willing to help, even in a small way, some other folks who love movies too? Could you guys possibly try and spread the word about this to filmmakers you know who have most likely been involved with this cinema at one point or another? A voice as loud as Quentin Tarantino's or Robert Rodriguez or Joss Whedon or anyone else you can imagine would help in ways unimaginable and would maybe give those concerned the kick up the ass they sorely need. All I'm asking is that, if you're inclined, you spread the word. Thanks.
A website has been set up to help the campaign. If you've got the time,
I'd love for you to check it out right here.
It's between a cool cinema or another mediocre bar. Edinburgh needs your help, guys.
I just hope this helps, Brian. Keep me posted, and for anyone in our Talkbacks who has been to the Cameo or who regularly goes there... or for any filmmakers out there who have had great experiences at the Cameo... how do you feel about this?
I just got in this quick addendum:
I forgot to mention a particular quote.
A certain filmmaker, I think his name's Tarantino or something like that ;), once described the Cameo Cinema as the "most important Art House Cinema in the world".
I hope this backs our case up.
Many thanks again,