Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Meet our graduates: Carol Rennie

A two-time postgraduate alumnus in Asian Studies, Carol now owns and runs an independent cinema in northern England where she has co-founded the MINT Chinese Film Festival.

Photo of Carol standing outside her cinema with a car and film poster
Carol at a screening of No Time to Die at the Keswick Alhambra Cinema which she owns and runs

Carol Rennie came to the University of Edinburgh in 1995 as a graduate of Chinese and German. A decade on, she had completed an MSc by Research in East Asian Studies specialising in Chinese Literature, and a PhD on Taiwanese women writers.

Born in Botswana, and educated in northern England, Carol was already a well-seasoned traveller by the time she came to Edinburgh. Before her undergraduate degree in Leeds, she had spent a gap year as an au pair in Germany and, prior to her masters, took up a language scholarship in Taiwan.

During breaks in her postgraduate studies, Carol credits language learning and Chinese Studies with “helping me into a series of amazing jobs with the British Council in Taipei, British Academy and Royal Society in London, the UK Research Councils in Beijing, and Queen Mary University of London”. She also worked in Italy and the Netherlands “as a trailing spouse, while my children were small”.

A fantastically interesting career

“I went into postgraduate studies thinking I’d become an academic” begins Carol, when talking about her diverse career path.

“It was while helping out with Edinburgh’s hosting of the European Association of Chinese Studies Conference that I realised I much preferred to help academics out rather than be one, and that is what I spent the rest of my career doing”.

“Before the cinema (which is a family business), I worked in administrative and executive roles in international relations between the UK and Asia, primarily China.”  

“It’s been a fantastically interesting career – I’ve met so many amazing people, and got to travel to so many places.”

Best advice I can give: Follow your passions, not what you think will get you a good job – if you do what you love, and give it all you’ve got, the jobs will come!

Carol Rennie, MSc by Research in East Asian Studies and PhD in Chinese Studies

A Chinese film extravaganza

Having settled back in the English Lake District, not far from where she went to school, Carol now owns and runs the Keswick Alhambra Cinema, a century-old independent cinema.

Over three days in February 2023, together with fellow Edinburgh graduate, Yixiang Shirley Lin, she screened the first MINT Chinese Film Festival at the Alhambra, welcoming over 250 cinema goers, many with festival passes for multiple screenings and events.

Carol describes MINT as a “Chinese film extravaganza, founded and organised by women, and focussed primarily on films by women, and about women's experiences.” Around three quarters of the audience were Chinese, mostly postgraduate students and recent graduates, who had travelled from all over the UK to attend.

Talking about co-founding the festival with Yixiang, a Film, Exhibition and Curation graduate, Carol says “it was her connections, drive, and enthusiasm that turned my dream of a Chinese film festival in the Lakes into a reality - having a venue ideally located just two hours away from the two major centres of film studies in Leeds and Edinburgh meant the stars were aligned for MINT”.

Read more about Yixiang's story and her role in the MINT Chinese Film Festival 

 The MINT Chinese Film Festival returns to Keswick Alhambra Cinema for its second edition from 1 to 4 February 2024.

Read our feature on the MINT Chinese Film Festival

Are you interested in Chinese Studies at Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to teach both single and joint honours undergraduate honours programmes in Chinese. At postgraduate level, we offer a Masters by Research and PhD in Chinese Studies, and programmes in East Asian Relations (taught) and East Asian Studies (research).

We have particular strengths in classical and modern Chinese literature, modern Chinese culture, media, the performing arts and film, ancient Chinese philosophy and religion, and modern Chinese politics and society. We are part of a wider Asian Studies team with expertise in Japan, Korea and East Asia.

Find out more about Asian Studies at Edinburgh