Top 7 film festivals in the Netherlands

Top 7 film festivals in the Netherlands

If film is your passion, you'll be delighted to hear that there are multiple film festivals in the Netherlands well worth a visit. There are film festivals in each of the major Dutch cities, stretching in scope from local to global, and with themes as broad as human rights, social justice, environmental implications and LGBTQ issues.

7 of the best film festivals in the Netherlands

We've compiled a selection of seven outstanding annual film festivals that keep cinema-lovers returning year after year! This list of seven film festivals is just the tip of the iceberg!

World Cinema Amsterdam (August)

Introducing audiences to some of the best films from Latin America, Asia and Africa, World Cinema Amsterdam seeks to expose European audiences to the gems of the non-Western film worlds through an official competition, special areas of focus and the fan-favourite Open Air Cinema series in Amsterdam

With the festival's heart in the Rialto cinema, the screenings now draw more than 13.000 film enthusiasts each year. After the festival is over, the films continue touring the Netherlands and Europe, often due to the ratings and exposure that they receive during World Cinema Amsterdam. 

Nederlands Film Festival (September / October)

The largest event focused solely on the Dutch film industry, Nederlands Film Festival is held each year in Utrecht. The event brings many thousands of people to the premieres, galas and screenings of the best Dutch films from the previous year.

With Dutch language films receiving relatively little exposure abroad, the Nederlands Film Festival is an important platform for Dutch directors and actors to establish themselves amongst a domestic audience. That being said, the occasion always has a touch of glamour with red-carpet events, talk shows, debates and parties.

In terms of films, the festival screens and judges a variety of genres including feature-length films, animation, short films, television dramas and art-house flicks. Numerous international festival programmers, distributors, TV programmers and producers attend the festival to keep abreast of developments in Dutch cinema.


International Documentary Film Festival (November)

One of the largest documentary film festivals in the world is the International Documentary Film Festival. Each year, around 300 titles are screened, having being selected from more than 3.000 submissions.

Along with offering filmmakers an incredible platform within the documentary industry, the public programme offers a valuable opportunity for audiences to see and be inspired by films that make a social impact. The principal screening locations are Pathé Tuschinski, Pathé de Munt, EYE Film Institute (pictured above) and de Brakke Grond.

Rotterdam International Film Festival (January)

What makes Rotterdam International Film Festival stand out consistently is its focus on international cinema. The festival helps talented, independent filmmakers from all across the world to reach the broadest possible audiences.

The festival is known for its innovative programming and its focus on independent works. Quality films from many different countries are presented to a large, international audience in Rotterdam with the aim of inspiring and broadening horizons.

The IFFR Live programme is the biggest film festival screening in the world, streaming six IFFR Live shows from Rotterdam simultaneously to more than 45 cinemas in every corner of Europe and beyond. All audiences can join the discussion at IFFR using #livecinema.


CinemAsia (March)

The only pan-Asian festival in the Netherlands and one of the largest Asian film festivals in Europe, CinemAsia Film Festival in Amsterdam gathers together a delightful selection of the best independent, mainstream and art-house Asian films, with the aim to bring out valuable insights from Asian culture and unite Dutch-Asian communities by a shared excellence in filmmaking.

CinemAsia has also collaborated with other festivals such as Pink Film Days, Amsterdam Indonesian Film Week and Indian Film Festival in The Hague. Besides films from China, Cambodia, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and other Southeast and East Asian countries, the festival offers food, karaoke, panels, exhibitions, a bazaar and more to ensure a fun and fulfilling experience for everyone.

Audiences are invited to vote for their favourite film, and students are invited to assess the films of first-time directors for the Student Award for Best Film, which will then be screened on the CinemAsia On Tour.

Movies that Matter Festival (March)

The Hague, as international city of peace and justice, is the designated home of the Movies that Matter Festival, which is funded by Amnesty International and takes place once a year. The festival uses the power of film to promote human rights and social justice.

At the Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag, both located in the centre of The Hague, an inspiring mix of film, debate, questions and answers, give a rich insight into questions posed in today's world and humanity's drive to fight adversity. The films shown range from documentary to fiction.

Pink Film Days (March) 

The Pink Film Days (Roze Filmdagen) is the foremost LGBTQ film festival in Amsterdam. This event, taking place at the Ketelhuis at the Westergasfabriek, brings together works from international gay cinema, mainstream favourites and hidden gems.

The festival is renowned for its ability to bring out voices that may not normally be heard. The main goal of this unique film festival is to screen inspiring movies that viewers can reflect on and, at the same time, to become a social event where visitors can interact with each other. 

Get ready to attend some amazing film festivals

These are some of the most prolific film festivals in the country and even in Europe, so start putting them on your event calendar and get ready to see some enlightening cinema this year! Subscribe to the IamExpat newsletter and make sure you don't miss out on film festivals and other exciting events.


Rachel Deloughry


Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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