Mobile cinema at risk after 25 years on the road

Screen Machine
The Screen Machine service has been running since the late 1990s

A mobile cinema that has been in operation for 25 years is at risk of closing.

The Screen Machine, a lorry with a small cinema inside its trailer, tours the Highlands and Islands, Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire.

The service's purpose-built vehicle is out of action due to breakdowns.

A replacement has been leased until early next year, but there is no funding in place to continue the service beyond then.

Regional Screen Scotland, which operates the service, said a new mobile cinema would cost at least £1.4m and take up to 18 months to build.

Fiona Fowler, of Regional Screen Scotland, said some communities were already missing out because the leased vehicle could not be transported to seven islands, including Cumbrae and Jura.

Robin Haig
Robin Haig said the Screen Machine provided an important service to rural communities

She said there were concerns about what would happen once the lease ran out in April, adding: "With nothing in the pipeline we will be forced into winding the service down."

Bafta-winning film and TV director Robin Haig grew up with the service while living in Dornie in the Highlands.

She said: "Not having the Screen Machine would be like not having your loved family member come to visit.

"It provides so much warmth and spirit and gives you the chance to laugh and cry together."

Screen Machine at Cromarty
The mobile cinema at Cromarty in the Highlands

Customers have been asked to lobby MSPs to help secure funding for a new mobile cinema.

The Scottish government said there was significant pressure on the funding of cultural organisations, but that it was working closely with the sector.

A spokesman said: "The Scottish government values the importance of our cultural organisations and their contribution to the wellbeing of the country to promote the arts, provide employment and engage with communities across Scotland."