Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s film committee CUT.
By Patrīcija Keiša
“You wanted to be kidnapped by the movie – and to be kidnapped was to be overwhelmed by the physical presence of the image. The experience of ‘going to the movies’ was part of it. To see a great film only on television isn’t to have really seen that film. … The conditions of paying attention in a domestic space are radically disrespectful of film.”
So writes Susan Sontag in her deeply nostalgic essay “The Decay of Cinema”. For her, you have to be “seated in the dark among anonymous strangers” to truly experience a film and lose yourself to the lives of those inhabiting the story world.
Now, we at CUT are not saying that watching movies on your laptop (which has replaced TV since Sontag’s ‘96 essay) is a complete waste of time. Yet we agree that there exists certain magic only to be experienced at the movie theater. Watching cinema in your dorm room where you already sleep, study, cry, cook, eat and do yoga… Well, it might simply leave one’s mind too busy to fully immerse. Moreover, for Roland Barthes the liberating darkness and anonymity of the cinema theater defines “modern eroticism” which is essential to life in a big city. More often than not, living in the Science Park bubble does not truly feel like living in Amsterdam, so going to the cinema might just be the perfect opportunity to escape the Bubble and experience the city.
Thus, CUT, the film committee of AUC, gladly presents a guide of our favorite movie theaters in Amsterdam.
Cinema of the Dam’d
Located in the former Dutch film academy, Cinema of the Dam’d shows unordinary films which are often underrated by the mainstream film industry and cinema-goers. They are non-profit, therefore the screenings are for free or significantly cheaper than any commercial theater would offer.
Some other convincing facts: one of the founders of the cinema is a lecturer at AUC, there are cozy couches and they host a vegan organic cafe for satisfying pre/post-screening hunger. Basically, this place is supahh alternative and supahh amazing!
The films are usually in English or with English subtitles, so no worries for all the international non-Dutchies.
According to our extensive research, this cinema is the closest one to the dorms (10 minutes by bike). Which means it is a great compromise for getting out of the dorms when it’s pouring rain and you only want coziness. Because cozy it is! With comfy seats and diverse film choice, this cinema balances between arthouse and mainstream. What is more, Studio/K also offers a film + dinner deal from its café, so that’s an extra opportunity to treat yourself.
However, a slight downside of this local cinema is that they do not offer expat screenings, so films are only subtitled in Dutch.
Pathé Tuschinski is a chain cinema but oh, a magnificent one! Its Art Deco architecture and interior are a must aesthetic experience at least once while you are living in Amsterdam.
Movies are screened with Dutch subtitles, so do make sure to choose a film according to your linguistic abilities.
Kriterion is located close enough to the dorms for a lazy last-minute cinema-going decision but far enough for you to feel that you have truly gone out and done something with your life. The cinema is entirely student run and hosts an atmospheric bar (an opportunity to run into non-AUC students).
Besides showing mainstream as well as independent releases, they also offer curious deals such as Sneak Preview – every Tuesday at 22:00 for 5€ there is an exclusive mystery screening of a yet unreleased film. Moreover, starting at 18:00, there is Taco Tuesday at the bar.
Films are usually screened with Dutch subtitles, but they organize occasional expat screenings with English subtitles. The easiest way to find out about these is to follow them on Facebook.
The EYE Filmmuseum theater will not only take you out of the Bubble but also bring you over the IJ river. Taking the free ferry is always an experience in itself even if it takes only 5 minutes from central station. Apart from hosting film festivals such as the International Documentary Film Festival and Cinedans, EYE regularly shows a variety of fresh films and classics.
Going to the EYE is always also an opportunity to visit the cool permanent and temporary exhibitions of the museum, buy artsy postcards at the souvenir shop and enjoy the amazing view from the spacious café-restaurant.
Most films are subtitled in Dutch yet sometimes there are English screenings too; the languages for a particular screening are always indicated on their website.
LAB111 describes itself as a “a new cult cinema and restaurant for food lovers and cinephiles”. Housed in a former pathological anatomy laboratory, it offers a variety of curious special programs such as showing entire filmographies of notorious directors like Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch, screening films by the now famous director of “Call Me By Your Name” as well as hosting Film+Psychiatrie showings with a relevant introduction by a psychiatrist (in Dutch only). What is more, they offer cinema brunches and film+dinner deals.
This cinema has regular Expat Cinema screenings with subtitles/audio in English. A lot of the specials, such as the Bergman film screenings, also have English subtitles.
“Very alternative, cheap beers, very hip, un-bureaucratic type of thing” – second year Humanities major and last year’s CUT short film director Catherine Winter.
The most underground on this list, Cavia is a very small cute cinema with a small cozy bar. It screens arthouse films and classics, but also focuses on LGBT and activist themes. Tickets are always a friendly 5€.
They screen lots of films originally in English, but otherwise the subtitle language is stated on the website.
CUT screenings in the Dorms
If you do not feel like going out in the big city but would still appreciate to see a film on the big screen, you are very welcome to the carefully curated CUT screenings happening bi-monthly. They are free, we provide popcorn and you can come in pajamas.
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