Hey there, it's just the usual obligatory message to inform you that this site uses cookies. Click here to find out more about our privacy policy or alternatively click the X on the top-right if you would rather just get on with the movie reviewing fun.

Frank Sidebottom The Home of the Retrospective


On this page we take a look at the best arthouse and independent cinemas in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It's well worth supporting these establishments due to their traditional atmosphere, specialised services and/or dedication towards non-mainstream cinema.


Filmhouse Edinburgh Logo
The Filmhouse was opened in 1979 in the converted former St. Thomas Church. It consists of 3 screens: one of 280 seats, one of 97 and one of 72. It also houses a popular cafe bar which serves a large array of drinks, snacks and main meals, including some daily specials.

The films shown tend to fall into the categories of world and arthouse cinema rather than multiplex fare. There are also frequent seasons of old classics.

The Filmhouse is the trading name of The Centre of the Moving Image, a registered charity which also runs both the world's oldest continually-running film festival - the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), est. 1947, and the world's oldest continually-running film society - the Edinburgh Film Guild, est. 1929.

The cinema is also well-known for playing host to a number of other film festivals, including the annual Dead By Dawn horror festival and the Edinburgh leg of Scotland Loves Anime.
Cameo Cinema Edinburgh
The Cameo is one of the oldest cinemas still running in Scotland. It originally opened as the King's Cinema in 1914, and became The Cameo in 1949. It's famous for making its own cameo appearance (see what I did!) as part of the animated fantasy Edinburgh backdrop in the Sylvain Chomet animation The Illusionist.

Its screening schedule mixes blockbusters with arthouse, world cinema, old classics and live theatre transmissions in more or less equal quantities. The building is charming, in particular the art nouveau stylings of Screen 1, along with the Parisian atmosphere and countless movie memorabilia photos within its much-loved bar. As with the Filmhouse, there are three screens and the bar serves food (albeit only relatively light fare in this instance).

The Cameo isn't an independent cinema; it is part of the Picturehouses chain - a nationwide initiative dedicated towards preserving what is left of the UK's old movie houses. Picturehouse Cinemas is, in turn, run by the massive Cineworld chain. However, the cinemas have been allowed considerable free rein in running their operations and maintaining their own independent feel.

It is also the Edinburgh venue of the regular All Night Horror Madness event - a nationwide tour featuring a selection of horror cult classics screened from dusk until dawn.
Dominion Edinburgh
The independent Dominion Cinema opened in 1938 in Edinburgh's attractive historic Morningside district. The building was designed by Thomas Bowhill Gibson in an Art Deco Style. It has 4 screens and a bar.

Unlike the Filmhouse and Cameo, its schedule concentrates mostly on mainstream releases. However, it has carved out its own distinctive niche by providing a luxurious "first class" moviegoing experience in screen 1. This includes table service plus electronically-adjustable leather sofas and foot rests.


Glasgow Film Theatre Logo
The Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) is an independent cinema run by a registered charity. The art deco movie theatre was originally opened in 1939 as The Cosmo, becoming the first specifically arthouse cinema in Scotland.

It has three screens and a smallish upstairs bar. The films shown are mainly arthouse offerings and old classics, as well as live concert and theatre transmissions. It is also home to the Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow Short Film Festival and Glasgow Youth Film Festival.
The Grosvenor on Ashton Lane, a charming Glasgow West End backstreet lined with bars, is a complex containing two 100-capacity screens, a cafe and a bar. It was opened in 1921 and, along with the GFT, is one of only two surviving independent cinemas in the city.

While most of the films shown are mainstream fare, there are also some live music and theatre transmissions as well as occasional screenings of old classics. It has also played host to the Glasgow legs of the Play Poland Film Festival and All Night Horror Madness, and recently commenced a series of dog-friendly screenings.

Simon Dwyer banner