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Rotterdam Cinema Capital

What do cities like Cannes, Berlin,Venice, San Sebastián or Locarno have in common? Well, they all host long-standing film festivals and, for a number of days and at different spots in town, all feature both screenings and parallel events as a tribute to the seventh art. Visiting these cities during a festival reveals a different side to them. Instead of the conventional tourist escapade, it involves experiencing the city from a cultural viewpoint like any of its residents. To the above-mentioned cities we should add Rotterdam, famous for having one of the largest maritime harbours in the world. It is also an industrial centre and a capital of football, with three teams in the Dutch top-flight Eredivisie – Feyenoord, Sparta and Excelsior. Over and above that, however, Rotterdam is privileged to host a highly potent film festival which turns the city into one of the leading world cinema hubs for a period of twelve days.

This time around, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (its official name) will take place from 25 January to 5 February 2017, and the programme is dedicated to art house films, both European and international, and the leading figures of independent cinema. This year is dedicated to a retrospective of Jan Němec, one of the paramount filmmakers in Czech cinema, who died a few months ago. A tribute to his figure will involve screening his best known films, as well as a posthumous film, The Wolf from Royal Vineyard Street. The official festival lineup will feature the latest movies by Jim Jarmusch, Paterson and Gimme Danger, in addition to the long-awaited film, Jackie, by Pablo Larraín, starring Natalie Portman.

The focal point of the festival will be De Doelen, a venue with an eventful history in downtown Rotterdam. Its location gives you plenty of time to stroll around and discover the city between screenings. De Doelen was built in 1966 and is both a convention centre and the primary venue of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The other cinemas providing screenings are also in the city centre, in such charming theatres as Oude Luxor and the Pathé Schouwburgplein. They are relatively near some museums which are well worth visiting, including the Maritime Museum, devoted to the importance of maritime culture and various aspects of sailing. Apart from the exhibition space, it features a canal in the surrounding area offering all types of parallel activities. The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is Rotterdam’s stellar art museum with an amazing collection, a dream come true for any painting enthusiast. Its exhibits include works by Salvador Dalí, Tintoretto, Hubert van Eyck, Willem Heda and Pieter Bruegel, among others, but it doesn’t stop there – the museum also covers other art disciplines (industrial design, installations, graffiti) and itinerant exhibitions that are refreshed each month. By the way – the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is just a stone’s throw away from Museumpark, one of the city’s lungs and most beautiful parks.

Apart from the aforementioned films and cycles, the International Film Festival Rotterdam also hosts a number of out-of-the-ordinary special screenings. One of the most prominent is a whole, day-long session dedicated to children. This year it falls on Sunday 29 January and features a selection of films which the little ones can enjoy in the company of their parents. Other events worth mentioning include two short marathons to be hosted on 4 February. Lasting six hours each, they will be held in the Kino Rotterdam, a cinema where you can also have dinner or a drink, if you wish. Check out the rest of the festival events here.

Be sure to discover Rotterdam through the prism of its cinema festival – book your Vueling here.

Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

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