In a city with a love for film, evident through the vast quantity of charming old-world cinemas as well as more modern yet independent structures, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s top film festivals are hosted in Amsterdam. Film fanatics, animation buffs and even foodies will happily approve of Amsterdam’s year-long mix of interesting film events. Below is a selection of favourites.
Autumn in Amsterdam sees the city’s biggest film event take over its iconic cinemas and many cafes, with countless conversation filled ‘borrels’ devoted to the film’s on show. IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) is one of the world’s largest documentary festivals with roughly 300 films on the agenda. The festival aims to focus its programme on films that are not only stylistically interesting but also masterfully communicate social issues to their audience. IDFA typically premieres major international documentaries and is an excellent source to get an idea of the top films about to take over the documentary world. Last year, films such as Malik Bendjelloul’s Oscar nominated Searching for Sugar Man and Alan Berliner’s intimate portrait of Alzheimers First Cousin Once Removed won major awards at the festival. With its keen attention and devotion to world-class storytelling, IDFA is a top favourite film festival that’s not to be missed.
For more info: http://www.idfa.nl/nl.aspx
Pluk de Nacht
Started in 2003 by young film enthusiasts wishing to bring quality independent cinema to the Netherlands, Pluk de Nacht (seize the night) is a popular event on Amsterdam’s summer festival programme. Deck chairs, cushions and a scenic waterside location create a laid-back vibe at this open-air festival. Of course, not every evening is a balmy Eden of clear skies; this is still Amsterdam. In case of rain, blankets and an indoor location are at hand for a cosy snuggle with fellow cinema-goers. The programming is surprisingly eclectic, with choices ranging from absurd romantic comedies to serious documentaries. Most of the films aren’t picked up by Dutch distributors so the festival is likely your only opportunity to watch hard to find cinema. The most attractive feature, however, is that Pluk de Nacht is entirely free! A relaxed atmosphere and free cinema puts this open-air film festival firmly on every summer must-do calendar.
For more info: http://www.plukdenacht.nl
Africa in the Picture
This autumn film festival brings over 80 films from Africa and the African diaspora to Amsterdam. The festival aims to provide a platform for debate surrounding issues affecting the African continent and its many communities worldwide. Each year themes are chosen in order to reflect these issues more accurately, which last year included ‘Caribbean Classics’, ‘Gay Africa’, and ‘Black British Third Cinema’. As well as enlightening film screenings, the festival also includes a visual arts programme, workshops, lectures and debates. Africa in the Picture is not only an important festival that sheds light on the realities of being African but it also presents a programme of simply exciting and highly enjoyable storytelling.
For more info: http://www.africainthepicture.nl
Food Film Festival
For 3 days during March, Amsterdam’s Food Film Festival combines everyone’s two much loved pastimes into a celebration of cinema and gastronomy. Hosted by venue Studio K, a selection of documentaries, shorts and fictional films all related to food fill the festival programme alongside food workshops, debates, readings and other events. As well as celebrating our love of food, the Food Film Festival also aims to create awareness around issues of production, consumption and sustainability through related documentaries and films. And in the manner of revelling in all things food related, the Youth Food Movement takes over Studio K’s restaurant in order to bring you cheap, sustainable and locally sourced culinary delights. A great fusion of food and film make the Food Film Festival an ideal event for both foodies and film buffs alike.
For more info: http://www.foodfilmfestival.nl/
KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival
Beginning in 2007, this relatively young festival is completely unique in comparison with the other festivals on this list. Not only does KLIK! treat animation as its own art form but also aims to fully emancipate the medium and share this process with its audience. The programme therefore includes a selection of almost 300 animations that typically go beyond our expectations of the usual kiddie cartoon. Each year, KLIK! organises its films around a particular theme, with past themes including sex, science, politics and violence; in other words, definitely not for children. As well as a selection of forward-thinking animations, KLIK! also features master classes, special guests and parties.
For more info: http://www.klikamsterdam.nl