Inspired by the upcoming International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (annually in mid-November), IDFFA for short, here’s a list of the best non-mainstream cinema’s.
The beauty of these cinematic art houses is that each have their own ‘soul’, a unique sense of being and take a step further in engaging you in the film.
De Uitkijk - Look at the Art of Film Making
De Uitkijk, The Out Look, opened as the City Cinema for the Amsterdam elite in 1929. Managed by the Film Authorities the film selection is focused at ‘the art of film-making, not at entertainment’. To this day, the cinema focuses at showing quality films. The French avant-garde style of the building gives guests a nostaligic feel. Website has pages in English. De Uitkijk, Prinsengracht 452, Leidseplein, Amsterdam.
Rialto - Submerging in Film
This cinema dates back to 1921 as a neighbourhood film house. Nowadays it is more of a art house run by a group of youngsters with a wide interest in cinema and entertainment. For example, they host introductions, interviews and afterparties together with film showcasing. Rialto Besides film classics, Rialto specifically in (non-western-world) world cinema. Website is in Dutch, so to get a better feel for Rialto, have a drink in the large and ‘gezellig’ Rialto bar and ask what’s on for non-Dutch-speakers (for sure enough). Rialto, Ceintuurbaan 338, De Pijp, Amsterdam.
The Movies Art House Cinemas - oldest cinema in Amsterdam
The Movies is the oldest cinema in Amsterdam dating back to 1912. Just for the art deco interior a visit to this art house is recommended. The film selection classifies as ‘author cinema’, as they call it; films that are the result of a creative drive to execute by the director and/or writer. Within this genre, the films can be ‘easy-going Hollywood-star-filled’ works to true cinematic art. Website is only in Dutch, but easy to understand for non-Dutch-readers. The Movies, Haarlemmerdijk 161-163, Amsterdam.
Melkweg Cinema - Amsterdam Cultural Mekka
The Melkweg is the most well-known cultural centre of Amsterdam, if not the whole of the Netherlands. The programme unites five artistic disciplines: music, dance/theatre, film, photography and media art. Concerts, dance events, theatrical and dance productions, films, media art presentations and photo exhibitions are staged in five halls and several small rooms. Melkweg (agenda is in Dutch), Lijnbaansgracht 234a, Leidseplein, Amsterdam.
Kriterion - by students, budget-friendly
Kriterions turbulent history starts during WW II in nazi occupied Amsterdam (full history). Shortly, the cinema started as an entrepreneurial endeavour by a former (nazi-)resistance-group of students. Kriterion is still fully run by students and consists of a bar-restaurant, film theatre and part-time night club. Film selection: alternative, non-commercial films. Kriterion, Roetersstraat 170, near Weesperplein across Psychology Faculty of the Amsterdam University.
Cinema at the Smart Project Space - Art(ist) Hub
The SMART Project Space is the artist-meets-audience site for cultural production. The 700 sqm lab includes a cinema, where besides film and video art showings, talks and performances are hosted. The programming focuses on ‘stylistic originality’ resulting in the showing of recent art house films, independent documentaries, old classics and modern countercultural films. Smart Cinema Agenda, Arie Boemondstraat 111, Oud-West, Amsterdam.
The center of cinema-loving Amsterdammers. Particularly for those who A variety of quality non-commercially-driven films are shown. You can also have a dinner at the bar, or take the meal into the theatre. Cinecenter, Lijnbaansgracht 236, Leidseplein, Amsterdam.
The cultural and debate centre of Amsterdam is De Balie, where one will obtain new insights on society and life. Enjoy live magazines, talk shows, festivals, debates, theatre performances and, of course, (non-Dutch-friendly) film showings of all sorts. Website is in Dutch yet activities suitable for English-speakers are (mostly) announced in English. De Balie, Kleine Gartmanplantsoen, next to Leidseplein, Amsterdam.
Tropentheater - Everything But from the West
The Tropentheater is the stage for all non-Western-world performances; live concerts and dance, (youth) theater and films. From Turkish and Bollywood productions, to Turkish and Brazilian works. The only issue may be: difficulty to understand the films as the subtitling is probably in Dutch. Check with the theatre is my advice. Tropentheater Agenda, Linnaeusstraat 2, Amsterdam East.
Filmhuis Cavia - Cinema Al Fresco
Located in Amsterdam-West, this film house shows non-commercial films. Visit this cinema in the summer, when the films are shown in the open air. Filmhuis Cavia, Van Hallstraat 52 - 1st Floor, Westerpark, Amsterdam.
The boiler room of the Westergasfabriek (former city gas installation site) has been turned into a film bar. Mostly Dutch works are shown here, so may be stick to the bar? Het Ketelhuis, Pazzanistraat 4
Studio K - baby sister of Kriterion, Budget-friendly.
Cinema run by Kriterion with the same concept: non-commercial films in the theatre, lively bar-restaurant and an occasional party. Studio K, Timorplein 62, Amsterdam East.
Pathe Tushinski Theatre - Hollywood Glamour
Absolutely beautiful the Tushinski theatre. It is part of the the Pathe group, which has a dozin of cinemas in Amsterdam showing all major (Hollywood) productions. The Tushinski theatre with its Art Deco interior, is stunning though and definitely worth a visit! Tushinski, Reguliersbreestraat 26, Amsterdam Center.