80 Years of Cinema Glasgow Film Theatre

80 Years of Cinema celebrated at GFT Thursday 9 May – Sunday 12 May

 Glasgow Film Theatre will hold a weekend of special free screenings, open to all.

 Glasgow Film Theatre is celebrating 80 Years of Cinema on Rose Street with a selection of special screenings, free to audiences, to mark the anniversary of Scotland’s original independent cinema and eight decades of film-lovers in Glasgow.

The Cosmo – later to become Glasgow Film Theatre in 1974 – opened in 1939 as Scotland’s first independent arthouse cinema. 80 years on, and now an educational charity, GFT remains the home of film in Glasgow and the public’s favourite independent cinema.

From a single screen theatre with 850 seats, it has evolved to three screens, with cutting edge technology and a programme of more than 700 films a year. The past eight decades have been packed with cinema firsts and built a passionate, supportive and loyal following.

Guests at Sunday’s special screening of Cinema Paradiso will include the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Eva Bolander. Also from Thursday to Sunday, archive photographs will be displayed in the foyer, showing the cinema over the past 80 years, as well as some of the VIPs who have visited during that time.


 Allison Gardner, GFT Programme Director & Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director, said:

“We look forward to welcoming audiences to Glasgow Film Theatre this weekend for a selection of free screenings to celebrate the last 80 years as a leading cinema in the UK. Over the years, our audiences have enjoyed a varied and broad programme of cinema on Rose Street; while the cinema has evolved, our ethos of excellence and Cinema for All remains. We are proud of all that has been achieved over the last 80 years and look forward to the future: evolving our accessibility programmes, bringing an exciting and varied programme of film and exclusive special events, and entertaining film-lovers for generations to come.”

 Paul Laverty, award-winning screenwriter and GFT supporter, said:

 “I love going back to the GFT with our films; each Q and A has been special. I laughed out loud at some of the cheek after Sweet Sixteen. I remember the emotion after The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The mischief after The Angels’ Share. I remember sharp observations after Even the Rain. I remember the anger and debate after I, Daniel Blake. It feels like a circle, and a way of saying thanks to an old mate that has given me so much. Happy 80th birthday GFT. How many lives have you touched?  I don’t want to tempt fate, but I hope I can keep my marbles till your 100th, not long to go.”

David Tennant, award-winning actor and GFT supporter, said:

“Happy birthday Glasgow Film Theatre. Some of my most formative cinematic experiences took place at the GFT. It’s a magical place. Here’s to the next 80 years.”


In 1939, Glaswegians were the UK’s biggest fans of cinema – they went to the cinema an average of 51 times a year, compared to 35 times for the rest of Scotland and 21 in England. In the same year, the Cosmo, Scotland’s first art-house cinema – and only the second purpose-built arthouse cinema in Britain – first opened its doors on Rose Street to show ‘films of a specialised appeal’. In 1974, under new ownership, the cinema was renamed Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT), as it is today.

mulholland drive


In 1953, the Queen’s Coronation was broadcast live and exclusively to the Cosmo, the first television performance in a Glasgow cinema. Proud to always be at the cutting edge of technology, GFT now screen in 4K laser projection with 7.1 Dolby digital surround sound, as well as being one of just a small handful of venues remaining in the UK with the capacity to screen films in 35mm and 70mm format.


The organisation has changed and evolved but the original sense of providing Cinema For All has remained central to the ethos of the cinema, now a registered educational charity. GFT was the first cinema in Scotland to have screenings with adjustments suited to people with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, and in 2017 GFT was the first cinema in the UK to receive the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award.


Scotland’s most diverse and best publicly attended independent cinema, GFT shows a wide variety of film – over 700 different titles a year from over 60 countries, covering every continent of the world. In the last 20 years, The Artist (2012) earned the highest number of admissions, and T2 Trainspotting (2017) broke GFT’s Box Office record. As was intended from the day the cinema opened its doors in 1939, GFT continues to showcase a broad programme of film – including many non-mainstream and classic titles not screened at any other cinema in Glasgow.

cinema paradiso

Over the years, celebrity visitors to the cinema have included: Gemma Arterton, Richard Ayoade, Jessie Buckley, Willem Dafoe, Richard Gere, Karen Gillan, Paul Laverty, Jude Law, David Lynch, Richard Madden, Michael Palin, Lynne Ramsay, Alan Rickman, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Quentin Tarantino, David Tennant, Joss Whedon and many more. GFT continues to regularly host exclusive special events – past examples include: Q&As with the cast of Game of Thrones, and recently with the cast of Still Game; plus music events by Mogwai, King Creosote, Aidan Moffat, Silver Apples and super-group Lost in France.


Championing new talent, GFT is the home of three exciting and progressive film festivals: one of the top three film festivals in the UK, Glasgow Film Festival; the largest competitive short film festival in Scotland, Glasgow Short Film Festival; and one of the most innovative youth festivals in Europe, Glasgow Youth Film Festival.

Join in the celebrations at GFT from Thursday 9 May – Sunday 12 May to mark the legacy of film on Rose Street, and look forward to more exciting cinematic innovations to come. glasgowfilm.org/80years

Polly Clark, Booked Festival 2019
Vox Lux GFT

This section: Cinema, Events, Fairs, Festivals and Fundraisers

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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