MOBILE CINEMA: Screen Machine service secured for a further two years

The Cinemobile in Dornie last year Pic,Iain MacColl

Mobile cinema the screen machine has been saved, after funding was secured for a further two years.

£350,000 from Screen Scotland has extended the lease of the current mobile cinema while the case is made for a permanent replacement.

The lease ensures the continuation of the Screen Machine service to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland until April 2026

Regional Screen Scotland, the operator and manager of the Screen Machine mobile cinema service, say they will have further time to raise £1.4 million to commission the build of a tailor made Screen Machine to take the service into the 2030s. 

The Screen Machine service has brought the big screen experience to communities from Barra to Bettyhill for 26 years.

Simon Drysdale, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Regional Screen Scotland, said: “We are immensely grateful to Screen Scotland for demonstrating their continued  support for Regional Screen Scotland and the much-loved Screen Machine by funding the fee to extend the lease of the Cinémobile for a further two years beyond April 2024.

“This means our customers can be confident that they will continue to have access to the big screen until at least April 2026.

“We have already made great progress in lobbying for support to commission the build of a brand new Screen Machine, which we intend to bring into use no later than April 2026.”

Earlier this year pupils in Barra secured the help of Dame Judi Dench in an effort to save the popular mobile cinema service from the threat of closure.

Dame Judi wrote to First Minister Humza Yousaf to highlight the cause.

Simon Drysdale paid tribute to all who had backed the campaign to save the cinema.

He added: “This progress is largely down to efforts that our customers made in writing to their MSPs and other elected representatives, to tell them how much they love and value the Screen Machine.

“We are very grateful for all of the letters, emails, conversations and phone calls that have been sent or made on our behalf – your hard work is starting to pay off!

“We would urge our customers to continue to contact their local councillors, MSPs and MPs to impress upon them that the long-term future of the Screen Machine will only be secured when the new mobile cinema is commissioned.

“Fund raising for the new, permanent Screen Machine is our mission over the coming months.”

After a series of faults the purpose-built vehicle, Screen Machine II came off the road last year after 18 years in operation.

Funds were found to lease the ‘Cinemobile’ from a French company – although this vehicle can’t travel to all the venues that the previous one could, with the likes of Eigg and Raasay no longer on the circuit.