It’s unlikely that The Netherlands comes to mind when considering powerhouses of modern cinema, but if Amsterdam’s EYE Film Institute is anything to go by, the Dutch take films, filmmaking, and the moviegoing experience seriously; the building is a stunning tribute to the magic of moving pictures. Austrian firm Delugan Meissl Associated Architects won a competition to design the sleek white structure in 2005, and it opened its doors to the public in April, offering myriad of screenings, exhibitions, and events that you can’t find at your local Metreon.
Located on the bank of the IJ river that runs through the city, EYE’s prime site in the Noord (north) region is a symbol of the area’s development from industrial no-man’s-land to burgeoning cultural hotspot. “The Oyster,” as it’s already been dubbed by locals, welcomes visitors with a crisp black, white, and dark wood motif, and was built around the social aspects of the cinematic experience; the "arena," an amphitheater-like cafe and bar provides a place to discuss the finer points of the flicks without being ushered out immediately after the credits roll. This area is also open to the non-moviegoing public, along with a basement, which is equipped with what is perhaps the coolest feature of the site: A series of yellow pods, big enough for two folks to sit comfortably, staggered throughout the space. Within each is a TV and an unbelievably deep archive of clips and full films--from Singin’ in the Rain to 2001 to incredibly obscure French military propaganda nuggets from way back into the last century--accessible with a swipe of the screen (I had a chance to visit a few months ago and this could have kept me busy for days). This space is rounded out with Panorama, an interactive video installation, and a wall-mounted unit called Mobile Thrill, designed by Sander Veerhof and Madeline Hage. It’s like a vending machine for clips: Smartphones set to record video are placed on a small conveyor belt, and disappear into the machine. Within a few minutes, the mobile is back out and, like magic, loaded with a short video from the EYE’s collection. Add in a tricked-out kids’ workshop area above the arena and it’s fun for the whole family.
In addition to a full program showing everything from Moonrise Kingdom to Casque d’or, rotating shows will make their way through the significant square-footage dedicated to exhibitions--Stanley Kubrick’s up until September 9th.