By no stretch of the imagination could I be considered to be a ‘film buff’, but I do really enjoy going to the cinema. Good friends of mine, Alex and Julia, could easily take in two or three films a week and would wax lyrical about how great a city Amsterdam was for films and the experience of going to the cinema. There are loads of great independent cinemas in the city that I really need to start going to, all of which have their own quirks and eccentricities that really make for a different experience from that you get from going to larger, chain-type cinema. That said, Amsterdam also has a really good selection of bigger cinemas of which I am much more familiar with. Amsterdammers will no doubt have heard of and been to all three of these, but visitors to the city might want to look one of them up as an alternative night out if the effects of the night before are restricting your ability to do it all over again!
Eye Film Institute Netherlands
I first moved to Amsterdam in August 2012, less than 6 months after the Eye Film Institute Netherlands (or ‘the Eye’ as you’ll more likely hear it referred to as) opened its sleek, space-age building on the banks of the river Ij. This fantastic building is home to tens of thousands of archived films, film posters and photographs as well as a rotating programme of exhibitions and linked screenings of films. There was an exhibition exploring the life and works of Stanley Kubrick when I first visited all those years ago, with screenings of all his major films being shown at the same time. What I think I like most about the Eye is that screening works by Kubrick and others gives new generations the chance to see the likes of Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange. I’ve also been able to see Gone with the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia here, too. Nobody can argue that the famous Nefud desert scene isn’t a hundred time’s better on the big screen than at home on your sofa. There is much more to the Eye than the screening of classic films, of course, as they also specialise in world cinema and Dutch films subtitled in English as well as showing larger Hollywood productions. Visiting the building is also an experience in and of itself, as the cavernous space inside seems implausible when you look at how sleek and streamlined it looks from the outside. There’s a great bar with great views, too!
Even newer than the Eye is the Filmhallen located in Amsterdam West, just off from the Kinkerstraat. I would consider this to be my ‘local’ cinema, as I only need to cycle for 5 or 10 minutes and I’m already locking up my bike in the underground storage. I certainly consider myself lucky to have such a good cinema close enough to home to call it a ‘local’, as while the Filmhallen is part of a larger national chain, the building is really atmospheric — think exposed brickwork and moody lighting outside of the screens. Expect to be able to see all of the big releases at the Filmhallen as well as independent cinema and documentaries as well. Yet the Filmhallen represents only one half of what this former tram hall now represents, as adjacent to the cinema you’ll find the fantastic Foodhallen. This street-food style extravaganza is packed with food stalls selling everything from Vietnamese-style sandwiches to jamón ibérico. While admittedly a bit pricey here and there, the Foodhallen is now nowhere near as crowded as it used to be as many of the city’s hipsters have moved on to ventures new, so you can enjoy a bite to eat and a fancy gin and tonic before or after you catch a film next door.
The Pathé Tuschinski just off Rembrandtsplein could well be the first cinema I went to in Amsterdam, but I couldn’t say for sure. What is certain, however, is that the cinema left the longest lasting impression! The Tuschinksi was built in the 1920s at an enormous cost, with both its exterior and interior showcasing a range of architectural styles including the Amsterdam School, Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements. Stepping into the foyer feels like a step back in time, with a grand twin staircase leading up to a balcony and the cinema screens beyond. The crowning glory is the cinema’s main auditorium, where Dutch premieres are often screened as well as newly-released Hollywood blockbusters. The Tuschinski also appears to act as Amsterdam’s representative for the broadcasting of National Theatre Live Productions. We’ve seen a couple of these at the Tuschinski — including a weather-affected performance when a storm over the English Channel interrupted the transmission (but we were ably compensated with a cup of tea) — amongst other non-film related events. If you see a film at the Tuschinski, furthermore, you’ll be right in the heart of Amsterdam to take in the bright lights of the city afterwards!Spanish version