Netherlands – Rialto (Amsterdam)

Netherlands - Rialto ©Bas Losekoot

Diverse and inclusive, alive and kicking!

Amsterdam’s Rialto cinema opened in 1921, at a time when cinemas were springing up all over Europe. Film was new and exotic and this is why our cinema, like many others at the time, was named after an exotic location: the beautiful Rialto bridge in Venice, the city with the world’s oldest film festival.

Rialto has a long tradition of screening films of social and political relevance. Into the late 1970s, Rialto was also well known as a children’s cinema. In the years since then, Rialto has become a flourishing modern film theatre with a leading position in the Netherlands thanks to its deliberate focus on independently produced European films and world cinema. We have three screens attracting more than 100,000 visitors a year. We are able to do this thanks to the efforts of a small team of highly motivated permanent staff and more than 100 volunteers.

Our aim has always been to offer our audiences fresh perspectives on the world; to open up new outlooks and broaden everyone’s horizon. We do this by offering a programme that reflects the character of our city: diverse and inclusive. Rialto is alive and kicking!

We aim to attract younger film enthusiasts (age 18-29) to Rialto. To obtain insight into their choise of film, some years ago we set up a film blog run by students, titled LA RIOT. On this blog, these highly motivated students write about the Rialto films they find interesting. Sometimes their reviews are glowing, sometimes highly critical, but always well argued. Once a month, LA RIOT also takes over the theatre itself in organising a special evening around a preview screening.

Amsterdam is a hugely diverse city and Rialto seeks to reflect this in its programming. In 2018 we started a new programme Rialto for Short, which gives young and new filmmakers – often from bi-cultural backgrounds – an opportunity to present their work to audiences and to an expert jury. Another brand new programme is Queer Pioneers, which, every month, puts a film tackling issues surrounding sexuality, sexual orientation and gender in the spotlight.

One of the jewels in Rialto’s crown is without any doubt our very own festival, World Cinema Amsterdam, which, each summer, brings together exceptional films from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The festival is not only a real treat for citizens of Amsterdam with roots in those parts of the world, but also an opportunity for everyone else to get to know these wonderful films.

There are exciting times ahead for Rialto, as it looks forward to realising one of its biggest ever ambitions in the form of two new Rialto cinemas on the periphery of Amsterdam, in neighbourhoods currently lacking in cultural amenities: Rialto VU and Rialto Silo. Over the coming ten years, the population of this new area of Amsterdam is set to rise to some 70,000 people, who will be introduced to Rialto’s films and programming on five screens, along with a great café, roof terrace and facilities for open-air screenings.

Raymond Walravens,
Director Rialto

Find out more about Rialto’s 2023 ambassador here:

Job van Aken in 2021.

Rowan Stol in 2020.