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We recently wrote this for an application we submitted, and we thought it was a good thing to share on our website– our story, our mission, and our plans for the future!

Cinetopia was formed in 2018 in Edinburgh by two female masters students from the University of Edinburgh’s Film, Exhibition and Curation department. We originally used the name for just the radio show and podcast and shortly thereafter created the cineclub, both to promote the discussion of film with filmmakers, film buffs, and anyone who wanted to join in on the conversation. Our original mission was for our themed monthly cineclub to screen films of all durations and genres as well as host informal talks by filmmakers and introductions by our curatorial team. While we’ve expanded beyond just our original monthly meetup, now offering at least two events a month, the mission remains the same. Our events are designed to foster casual discussion and offer opportunities to network with like-minded film enthusiasts. On our podcast, we review recent films and interview filmmakers, exhibitors, and other notable people within the local film community. It is in this unique collaboration of podcast and cineclub where we feel like we are adding to the Edinburgh film community and beyond. 

At the core, we are aiming to make a greater connection between the local filmmaking community and the filmgoing community in Edinburgh as well as provide an inspiring space to pursue film in any way you want – as an enthusiastic cinemagoer, a new filmmaker, a budding critic, etc. We do this not only through film screenings and our podcast but also through masterclasses, monthly networking events and, ultimately, our planned future workshops. We don’t have just one theme for our programming, but our programming ethos revolves around the variety of films that we show. We screen for a multitude of audiences, offering screenings ranging from genre classics to independent documentaries and from student shorts to Scottish archive films. Our events spring out from cinema spaces to outdoor screenings, and our screening locations range from film guild rooms to art galleries. Our experimentation with programming allows us to explore a variety of definitions of ‘the cinematic experience’, and just like the name of this organisation, we believe that cinema is for all and all are welcome. 

What started out as a monthly meetup in a gallery in the West End of Edinburgh with a formula to pair a short film with a feature film together and foster discussion around the two has grown significantly in the past year. We now offer multiple events a month, each running as a different strand catering to different audiences. Our ultimate dream has always been ambitious; we would love to eventually become a creative hub for both filmmakers and filmgoers in Edinburgh, fostering new talent and sharing their work to the greater Edinburgh community while offering the general film audiences better access to film and the film industry. Edinburgh is home to great international festivals, but it offers few spaces where new and up-and-coming film curators and filmmakers can test out their skills. This isn’t just an Edinburgh problem. We think spaces, both virtual and physical, that allow for greater accessibility to the film industry are important for the industry itself, and we think it’s incredibly important to offer access-points and inspirational advice and education for up-and-coming film industry professionals so the industry’s output ultimately becomes more diverse and inclusive. Furthermore, the way that filmmakers work has changed over the years, and we believe there is a need to help these film freelancers and small businesses work, connect, and collaborate in a fashion that is both easy and affordable. While we might be a bit away from our eventual goal, we think that each event is a step towards it, and we appreciate everyone at our events for reminding us why we believe in the importance of collective spectatorship in a public space.

Since we formed in early 2018, both of the co-founders have graduated and wrote their dissertations on topics relating to this subject of cinema hubs and the power of the collective experience of filmgoing. Ultimately, we believe that cinema gatherings within a public space have intangible positive effects on the participants themselves as ad-hoc communities gather at every film event you create. No matter the location, the film is also equally part of the equation. A film has the power to inspire a young person to pursue a certain career and remind an older person of a long-lost memory. Films can inspire conversation about an important topic, and it can take us away from our daily worries.  

Collaboration is our biggest philosophy. Our goal is to work with good partners for screenings of all kinds – from other film societies and organizations like the Edinburgh Film Guild, Reel Girl Film Club, Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Scalarama, to Take One Magazine to other arts and interest-based organizations such as Leith Festival and the University of Edinburgh. We are interested in bringing a diverse set of audiences to films they love but also to ones they might be unfamiliar with, and the only way to achieve this is by fostering discussion – what works, what doesn’t – and generally creating an ‘experience’ for each of our audiences. Our motto is “Cinema is Everything!”