Belmont Cinema prepares to welcome back film fans

Aberdeen's independent cinema is ready to open it's doors after weeks of closure due to Covid restrictions

Cinemas across Scotland reopened on May 17, but the Belmont Filmhouse Cinema in Aberdeen took a little more time to prepare for the their moment to welcome back film fans. Monday 31 May is their big day with moviegoers excited to experience the best in independent cinema. We asked manager Colin Farquhar what to expect.


We’re really excited to come visit again so we thought it was time to check in. If people haven’t visited you since the pandemic started, what should folk expect as they walk in the building with regards to buying tickets, grabbing a coffee and sitting down in their seat?

So essentially it's the same as September for now. Plenty hand sanitiser and queuing systems. People should book in advance if at all possible and pay with card. And in screens they're being kept apart in our pod system, which separates folk into households. Mask wearing in cinemas and foyers is still mandatory unless you're munching on popcorn. We greet everyone at the door and go through the rules with them.

How have your team responded to their return and to what I imagine is a whole host of new training?

Luckily it's much and such the same training as before - just refreshers. We had anticipated some changes to guidance but none really materialized. Everyone has been great and enthusiastic to get back to work, but some anxieties exist of course, which is totally understandable given the circumstance. Although we're nearly there now some of team still aren't vaccinated - we'll be asking customer to bear that in mind as they return.

Is the Belmont opening fully, or are there bits that will stay closed for a little while longer?

We're going to keep the bar closed for now - there's confusing and slightly contradictory guidance around how bars work in cinemas, different rules with spacing, Test and Protect etc. There's the obvious difference that bars are 1m but the cinemas are 2m spacing, but there's also differences around how you serve someone a drink when they're going to the film vs how they are served if they sit in the bar. So we'll feel our way into that. We're also quite skinny on staff at the moment and rules around furlough combined with ongoing tier 3 closure worries bring challenges around recruitment - so we'll keep the bar closed till later in summer when we've assessed how we can meet all those challenges.

What movies are you excited to share with the public over the next few weeks?

FIRST COW. I love Kelly Reichardt. I think I watched Meek's Cutoff twice through lockdown. Masterpiece. So I can't wait to see that and I'd encourage people to do the same. Nomadland is the one selling most tickets at the moment and Chloe Zhao is brilliant. The lineup is great - films have materialized for reopening this time more handily than last year. A lot of these films have been waiting in wings for freedom and screens for nearly 18 months now, so it's great then are finally out there. I think Sound Of Metal for example was finished in 2019.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRUWVT87mt8

Apart from buying tickets, what are some ways that folk can support The Belmont just now?
Just spread the word that we're back! Folk can still buy memberships and we'll be doing a free Student and Young Persons membership when we reopen. This will give students and 16-25 year olds access to £5 films all the time. They can also help by chatting with us - give us feedback; tell us what you want and what you want to see and we'll see what we can do.

The Belmont turned 20 at the tail end of last year, do you have plans to celebrate that milestone at some point in the months ahead?

Oh. I had quite forgotten amidst the pandemic that that particular anniversary had passed. And we've all had so much cake anyway over the past 15 months...we'll see!


And on that cliffhanger, we'd like to thank Colin very much for his time. Don't forget, you can buy tickets for the best in independent cinema from belmontfilmhouse.com, and follow their latest news on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also read our fantastic Temp Check interview with Colin about how he coped with the first part of the Covid-19 lockdown.