Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EYE Film Center Puts Amsterdam on Travel Hot List for 2013

After the Berlin International Film Festival re-located from the Zoo Palast, a historic cinema in the heart of West Berlin, to the former site of the Berlin Wall on Potsdamer Platz in 2000, Berlinale regulars spent years griping that things would never be the same again.
And each November, when the industry made its annual trek to the grand salles of the Fiera, or the Milan Convention Center, for the MIFED film market there were ever-louder complaints about the location that served to finally kill off the event.
Or consider as recently as last year when word broke that the American Film Market was abandoning its long-term digs at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for Downtown Los Angeles, resulting in an uproar which ultimately stopped the plans.
From the still-talked-about re-location of the original Palais in Cannes from one end of the Croisette to the other in 1982, to the welcome introduction of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, designed by the world-renowned architects KPMB to be the new hub of the Toronto International Film Festival more recently, venues for film-business types have always played big in the minds of industry executives.
But now in Amsterdam the state-of the art EYE film center, with its eye-catching architecture resembling a sleek, luxurious yacht perched on the edge of the river bank, has served to redefine the entire city, drawing people to the long-abandoned left bank of the historic river IJ and prompting a renewed sense of interest in the Dutch capital.
Consider Lonely Planet, the popular independent traveler’s guide-book series which has just named Amsterdam the second best city in the world to visit in 2013 and the number one European city to see next year, putting the EYE front and center.
Since opening in April, the building has attracted 250,000 paying visitors to the complex, which includes theaters and a film museum, and also serves as the new industry headquarters for a number of Dutch film institutes which were combined and renamed in honor of the new site. 
Holland Film, the Dutch national film promotion agency,  the Netherlands Filmmuseum, the Dutch Institute for Film Education, and the Filmbank have all since merged to become the EYE Film Institute Netherlands. Dutch industry veterans, such as Claudia Landsberger, head of EYE International, and Sandra den Hamer, EYE's director now call the building home.
Designed by the Vienna office of Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, the EYE includes four auditoriums and exhibition rooms. The basement includes a museum shop and a cafe with a terrace which offers views over the water and has become a magnet for locals and tourists alike.
Until recently, local residents of the Dutch capital would rarely venture behind the main train station. Boats leave from behind the station for the EYE which is situated in Overhoeks in an area which was also long considered out of bounds. The EYE has begun to change all of that and is now a popular destination.
Interest in the left bank has continued to spread. Other revamped destinations along the left side of the river include several old shipping yards which have been re-developed with funky architecture and new entertainment venues, serving to expand the city beyond its historic hub of canals and quaint houses.
A few minutes further by boat from EYE is the NDSM Wharf, an industrial playground for artists which has recently attracted big businesses, including MTV.
Now this vast open space contains hip cafes such as the Noorderlicht which is made out of corrugated plastic, a three-story shipping office which has been turned into an open-plan restaurant, De Banderij, a vast shipbuilding shed containing a skateboard park and 250 artists studios, random pieces of art scattered around the area and abandoned ships turned into tourist hang-outs, such as the Trinity House Light Vessel which is used for functions.
The left bank of the river and its industrial modern style is a far cry from the historic center of Amsterdam, where old brick houses with charmingly irregular facades line the beautiful canals. Boats slip under bridges. Cyclists wind through the cobbled streets and tourists sip coffee at old-world cafes.
Other new attractions include several museums re-opening including the Stedelijk Museum, which re-opened in Sept. 2012. The refurbished Rijksmuseum which has been closed for nine years and is one of the most important museums in The Netherlands, and the Van Gogh Museum will both re-open in 2013.
Report by Liza Foreman