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Save The Cameo Cinema In Edinburgh! A Geek Battle Cry Goes Out!

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.

Many thanks,

Brian Robinson

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,

Brian Robinson

Yeah, I'd call that an endorsement. Anyone else?

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 16, 2005, 7:11 a.m. CST

    Wow, that sucks.

    by Grando

    I've went to the Cameo on countless occasions whilst I was at University in Edinburgh. The place has buckets of charm, it would be a big loss to me personally (thanks to many late night screenings) if it closed. You've got my support, for what it's worth.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 7:41 a.m. CST

    trust me, you don't want a bar

    by RealDoubleJ

    The Daffodil in Cheltenham is a restaurant/bar made out of the old art deco cinema with the bar where the projector was and the kitchen where the screen was, and other than paying ridiculous prices for "Michelin-style food" (

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:13 a.m. CST

    What the hell is a battle cray?

    by sith-vol

    Sorry Mori....someone had to say it.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:30 a.m. CST

    If it's not making any money...

    by Johnny Wishbone

    ...then it closes and gets sold. Welcome to the world of Capitalism!

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:52 a.m. CST

    I was on a boat trip around the UK a couple months ago

    by seppukudkurosawa

    and took a little detour to Edinburgh during the festival season. I'd been there a few times before, it is one of the most eerie-looking cities I've ever seen, but I figured I'd check out a flick at the cameo seeing as though I had a couple of days to burn while the boat was getting fixed. Man I love Edinburgh, I'd go live up there if I knew anyone that far north. You have mime artists and bums with nature-platted hair crossing paths with Scottish yobs ("shut yer wee tadgem") and besuited businessmen. Buskers, castles; beautiful Universities placed at the top of the hill, that grace your eyes the moment you leave the train station. I've got one slight problem with the place though, there are too many fucking people.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Shame this place doesn't have 'Stickys'

    by DannyOcean01

    Any chance this can be put up on the left column of the site so it doesn't get lost. I imagine with all the new headlines it will disappear pretty quick.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:54 a.m. CST

    I've only been to the cameo on a handful of occaisons

    by Mr_Sleep001

    but each time has been something special. Over the past two years I've started going to the Edinburgh Film Festival and one of the big draws for going back the second time was the Cameo. It's just what a cinema should be comfortable, austere and egaging and it's a wonderful place. The main screen is huge and grand with seats you could get lost in. The small screen is small and intimate. It's the place where I saw Old Boy, The Devil and Daniel Johnston and Me You and Everyone We Know...great films in a great'd be a sad day if it went.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:58 a.m. CST


    by Grando

    I realise you're joking (I hope), but I feel inclined to mention that Scottish Army Regiments have been a mainstay in Iraq since the start of Gulf 2: The Quest for More Oil......

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 9:08 a.m. CST


    by Charlie & Tex of us has been to Edinburgh a couple of times in the last year, and never knew of the existence of the place. It didn't seem to be listed in any of the main tourist places. If we'd have known, we'd have dropped by the place, as there are so few places running as indies, that they are worth fighting for! We hope is goes well, guys!

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 9:08 a.m. CST

    Good lcuk, guys! Hope you suceed in saving the theatre!

    by Proman1984

    Looks like a great place for real cinema lovers.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 9:12 a.m. CST

    by Sinisterjim

    It's always sad to see an old theater go down, especially when it's someplace you grew up going to...hell, when I was a kid, I remember going to the Hillcrest Drive-in just about severy Saturday. It's when you haven't been in a long time, and then you read that it's closed down and set to be demolished, that really hit's you...all those years you could have been going, but for whatever reason you chose not to! The 2 walk in theaters I attended were the Hollywood, a single screen with about 600 seats and a very big screen and the smaller, but cool upstairs Satelite Twin, in a little strip mall on our college campus...saw every Star Wars, Star Trek and Indiana jones, as well as countless others at that theater, up until the late 80's when it closed down. Seeing a great old theater close always hurts, but when you have memories attatched, it hurts even more!

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 9:17 a.m. CST

    I have some happy memories of the Cameo

    by kentrel

    I remember when they used to do those cool all nighters. I remember seeing THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE for the first time in an all night Coen Bros festival. I remember watching DONNIE DARKIE there on its first release when none of the other multiplexes had caught on to its brilliance. However, to be honest, this is hardly a loss to cinema. The same movies you see in the Cameo now are usually Region 3's I bought the year before, or that I can see in one of the big multiplexes, which cater to a lot of foreign and asian films now. Sure, those multiplexes are evil, but at least bits of the ceiling aren't falling off. At least you've got a bit of distance between yourself and the guy behind you and you're not so close you can smell his crotch. At least the screen is a reasonable size and doesn't have the same blotch on it for months on end. At least when the movie starts it's dark. At least they don't attract film elitists who think its okay to make a critical analysis out loud during the film. I'm a huge movie fan, and have spent most of my life in one theatre or another, and I swear, the most ignorant and rude audiences I ever found were in the Cameo and Filmhouse where people spoke like they were recording the Director's Commentary. If they were ever bad in the multiplexes they were so far behind in a huge theatre I couldn't see them. Sure, someone might say "Well that's hardly their fault". Well yes it is actually. If you're catering to film fans, you better be prepared to kick out every film fans worst enemy. They've ignored my requests in the past. I do like how the Cameo shows short and unusual films, and its the centerpoint of the summer Film Festival. I just don't think the Cameo has competed very well with its competitors. It's been a long time since the Cameo has something that I haven't been able to see elsewhere. Also, this quote from Tarantino I can't find qualified anywhere else. Did he actually say it, or did the author make this up to give the theatre some recognition with this site? A lot of local people have praised this theatre, and for the most part rightly so, but really, it hasn't been as influential as they claim in world cinema, and age doesn't signify importance. I do think they're over emphasizing its importance. Understandably so, and in that respect I'll sign whatever petition to help keep it, or contribute a little money or whatever it needs. But if it disappears from Edinburgh I can't say the kind of films its shown are suddenly never going to be seen in this city. We live in changing and competitive times, and they've failed, in my opinion, to keep up with them.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 10:12 a.m. CST

    This sucks.

    by TheNeth

    I saw Memento at the Cameo. Although the screen was about the same size as my current TV, it was still an awesome experience. That cinema has major indie creds, let's hope they save it.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 10:33 a.m. CST


    by BRob

    Thanks, Mori, for posting this. And thanks for the support from the TBers. To address some points, I don't think this is about the cinema not making enough money, so enough with the capitalism bits. In fact, I don;t think it's losing money as it is - it;s just development BS. Fair play to capitalism but when I'm not happy I'll let people know about it, instead of rolling on my back and being a good dog. While I might have over-egged my email, it's still an important place for filmgoers in Edinburgh. And, about that QT quote, I found it in an article the campaign website links to, so look harder next time. The organiser of the campaign has other quotes too, so enough with the smug. About region 3 DVDs, fair play. But I'd rather see a film first time where it was made to be seen, and so would millions of other people. Or are BO figures BS?

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 11:15 a.m. CST

    I've been the The Cameo many a time...

    by Dr_Zoidberg

    and I hope it survives, but I'm not going to cry about it. UGC/Cineworld (just round the corner, 10 minute walk) show a good selection of films, not just the mainstream blockbusters. Ok, so it's new and lots of "commoners" are attracted to multiplexes, but the

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Good luck..

    by Sybs

    Well done on all the Scottish sterotypes, our American pals, btw. I never knew about this place, but it makes me want to drive up there and see it now, just in case it's gone soon. By the way, Yackbacker, as hilarious as your joke was, I think William Wallace died a while back. Oh, and if he was here, I doubt he'd give a toss about killing people for oil.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Does Scotland Have Electricity?

    by themanwhoknows

    Yes, of course we do. The guy who invented the telephone was a Scot after all. And as for Iraq, if you knew your geography YackBack, Scotland is part of the UK, the main supporter of Americas effort in the Iraq war. I'm not going to get into the politics of the situation, but if your going to rant do so on something you might have knowledge on. Possibily the inside of your pockets, although you will probably have trouble finding them.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 12:20 p.m. CST


    by BDT

    I watched, in horror, when they tore apart my beloved Waverly and turned it into 1) a self-storage business and then, 2) a bar (right 'round the corner from another bar). Everytime I go home I feel such a pinch about this... this theater had a chandelier, guilded carved pillars, velvet seats, a balcony and hand painted trompe d'oeil panels and moulding work. I spent just about every Saturday there from 1960 to the late 70s when it closed. This theater held some of my fondest memories of hanging out with childhood friends. Now, when I go back to my hometown, I see that most of the great movie theaters, all built in the 20-40s in that area, are gone or vacant. Even the multiplexes are dying because of megaplexes. This is not progress. Keep us posted on how to help. First you are going to have to find out what kinda cash is going to keep the Cameo alive.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 1:39 p.m. CST

    Hurrah for capitalism

    by barryap

    No, that's not sarcasm.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 1:55 p.m. CST

    a great cinema

    by rumblecat

    Grew up round the corner from it. They used to have great late night double-bills (and I imagine they still do). Me and my friends would sit there taking in such films as Rumblefish, Bad Taste (on a double bill with Toxic Avenger- yes!), Once Upon A Time In America, My Own Private Idaho, Querelle, La Haine, The Exorcist, Wild At Heart.. Really hope they don't close this place down. And I imagine the Tarantino quote is true, remember him having a beer in the bar round about the time Reservoir Dogs came out in the UK. Nice guy, wondered what ever happened to him...

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 3:01 p.m. CST

    YackBacker, that's some spectacular ignorance you've sho

    by scrumdiddly

    if you were serious. Speaking as a Scot, I'd like to point out that Scottish regiments are some of the most prestigious in the British Army, if not the world, and that my cousin fought in Iraq, both times, in his tank. He speaks fluent Arabic. Also I've never heard of the Cameo.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 3:02 p.m. CST

    Once again.....

    by Kentucky Colonel We lose theaters every damned day. Where is the love???

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 3:16 p.m. CST


    by BRob

    Well, I can safely say I'm not a film elitist - I've got a UGC card myself - but you get them wherever you go. Same with every media. If it goes, yes, you can see a lot of the films on release at the UGC, but it's the other aspects of the place like the late night double bills and the Q&A's, which I don't think the Filmhouse does enough of. Movies are a culture, not just the latest weekend opening, and places like this matter in more ways than just keeping turtleneck snobs happy. To the Austin TBers - what would you say it was the Alamo Drafthouse in this danger? And I don't think it's just about cash - if enough awareness is created, then maybe our idiot council would consider not issueing planning permission for this nonsense and might even have the building listed. Well, I tried.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 3:18 p.m. CST

    just to add another voice

    by Billy Brown

    the cameo is great, and important. and there's already a sodding bar in the place.

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 6:05 p.m. CST

    Not all change is bad.

    by Ooooooohhh!!!

    While I'd be sad to see The Cameo close (having spent many a happy afternoon there seeing films for

  • Nov. 16, 2005, 8:13 p.m. CST

    WORD UP!

    by pokadoo

    Went there two years ago. We couldn't decide on THIRTEEN or WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF and ended up seeing neither. It was a loverly place though, and i'd be sad to see it go. I signed the petition and e-mailed a link to my friends. Cheers min!

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 12:53 a.m. CST

    No, not the Cameo, you bastards!

    by Boxcutter

    From the sublime (Blue Velvet, Alien and Aliens midnight double bill) to the ridiculous (In The Realm of the Senses, Dream Demons with Tim Spall, insert your suggestion here), the Cameo was/is a wonderful place to see classic, contemporary and cult films - and releases that might not otherwise get much exposure. And Billy Brown is dead right, there is a bloody nice wee bar there already. I left home over 15 years ago to make a life among our "different" though generally accommodating colonial cousins (yes, the ones who voted Curious George back in), but I was a Cameo regular. Whenever I'm over I'll try and see something there. This summer, however, visiting with my 7 year old daughter, I was forced to give the "weird, foreign stuff" a bodyswerve and forced instead to go "round the corner" - as another Talkbacker says - to that heap of multiplex shite opposite Dundee Terrace to watch "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Difficult to decide which was more soul-less, the venue or the movie. Anyway, we have to stop this. Very sad.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 3:11 a.m. CST


    by Fortunesfool

    I met Quentin Tarantino at the Cameo cinema when he was premiering Reservoir Dogs. That was just one of my great cameo memories. Consider the petition signed.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 6:08 a.m. CST

    Never knew there were so many Scottish TBers

    by kuryakin

    Never been to the Cameo and I don't know much about it's situation. Here in Glasgow we've got the good old GFT which has had similar issues over the years. It's a small, beautiful looking cinema which shows movies you may not see elsewhere BUT the seats are tiny and uncomfortable; the massive UGC round the corner (Officially the world's tallest cinema complex or some shite) shows a lot of foreign cinema in big comfy seats; worst of all the GFT shows films at the most inconvenient times, aimed solely at people who have nothing better to do than go and see movies all day - ie the elderly, students and the unemployed. None of whom will be bringing in big money. When I was on the dole I loved going there to see foreign movies for two quid - being a working man I find it much more difficult to catch the movies I'd like. Yet the GFT survives in part through a smart system of sponsorship. For example you can pay money and have a seat with a wee plaque bearing your name or the name of the person you dedicate it to. (Best seat in the bigger theatre is right behind the one that says Toshiro Mifune, BTW) It's too bad for the Cameo this is happening after the festival - a campaign during that would have been really successful.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 6:53 a.m. CST

    Save my old haunt

    by Kizeesh

    Dammit, I live in Edinburgh and this is the first I've heard of this. I've been frequenting the Cameo for years. Ever since I saw Bambi there when I was 3 and tried to pet Bambi after running up to the canvas, a defining moment in my life. I later saw Many films there, in recent years I saw Chasing Amy at the festival there, Memento, and Ginger Snaps and Apocalypse Now Redux just to mention a handful. Save the Cameo, after the waste of space that the Odeon has become we cant afford to lose you too.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 10:03 a.m. CST

    The Cameo is a movie palace!

    by Uncapie

    Its the way movies are to be seen. And as stated in the article, there's enough bars in Edinburgh already! If anyone has been to the Crest Theater in Westwood, California, it has the same classy ambiance to it and you'll know why this theater has to be saved.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 10:53 a.m. CST


    by BRob

    It's great to see all of this support here. Many thanks. It would appear that the city council is stepping in now so I guess we'll just have to see what happens. It may still all go south yet.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 2:32 p.m. CST

    I saw Dogma there...

    by goatboy500

    .......I used to pass it every day on my way to university (where I no doubt studied haggis engineering, Sammo ya cunt) and this is akin to the Chinese theatre being closed down. TARANTINO PREMIERED RESERVOIR DOGS HERE...YOU KNOW THE GUY THAT MADE MOST OF US MOVIE GEEKS IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?!? Just stop the stupid scottish jokes, and sign the petition. ps Hey Sammo... two words. Shut the fuck up..

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 2:37 p.m. CST


    by goatboy500

    Pps're a fuckin nugget mate. If you said anything even remotely like that out loud in scotland you'd get your balls to play with. Scots are the best people at laughing at themselves..BUT its a bad idea to be rude to us. After all, we got fucked up the ass for hundreds of years by English oppressors, and WE KICKED THEIR FUCKIN HEADS IN WHILE WEARING SKIRTS TO MAKE THEM LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF CUNTS so bring it if you're hard enough ya fuckin cock jockey.

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 3:07 p.m. CST


    by kuryakin

    I was wondering when some twat or other would come on here waving the Scottish flag while trying to act hard. Please stop. You show no sense of humour. This country is becoming a joke and you are making it worse. I've just been told you are named after a porno movie which says a lot about the type of man you are. Please, please, please fuck off

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Plus YOU would never say any of that shit out loud

    by kuryakin

    Welcome to the internet, where little bitches can air all their woes like big men, if only they could type quietly enough so their mums didn't hear in the next room

  • Nov. 17, 2005, 6:12 p.m. CST

    A Damn Shame

    by tracheattack

    i spent a while in Edinburgh working at the Filmhouse, so I made frequent visits over to the Cameo. I remember running as fast as I could through storming rain to catch their first screening of Eternal Sunshine. Sigh, I'm passing around the link, hope something can be done. Was a beautiful place, i'd hate to think it's gone. Shame for the Odeon too. Played the big's, but someplace has to.

  • Nov. 18, 2005, 3:04 a.m. CST

    Long ago in a cinema far far away....(1978)

    by Wyrdy the Gerbil

    I remember using the Odeon and the Cameo in Edinburgh when i was docked in Leith,Star Wars in the Odeon and i think Curse of the Crimson Altar in the Cameo its a damn shame to see any cinema close but unfortunately if the business is`nt doing well then things like this are going to happen,good luck anyway i hope you suceed in keeping it going