Filmtheater Kriterion: The Preferred Café of Amsterdam's Coolest Students

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Kees Lynch
December 19, 2023

Earlier in the semester, I wrote about my favorite café, Checkpoint Charlie, an old punk spot with good music, cheap drinks, and a library full of interesting books. However, since I wrote about Checkpoint Charlie, another café has become my new go-to, especially now that my work has ramped up and I find myself studying more than anything else. The café in question is also a movie theater, located right on the University of Amsterdam’s Roeterseiland campus, which houses the schools of Economics and Business as well as Social and Behavioral Science. Filmtheater Kriterion is home to even cheaper drinks and even better music than Checkpoint Charlie, and while it doesn’t sport a library, there’s always a film to see, ranging from mainstream blockbusters like Scorsese’s new release Killers of the Flower Moon to small, independent projects produced by University of Amsterdam students. 

Part of Kriterion’s appeal is the people who frequent it, as well as its ever-changing staff. Kriterion is a semi-volunteer-based organization run entirely by students. It was founded in 1945 by anti-Nazi students and still maintains a young, progressive, forward-minded vibe nearly 80 years later. Since it is located right by one of the main campuses, Kriterion is usually hopping with the University’s coolest looking students. If you’re ever looking for Amsterdam-style outfit inspiration, look no further than Kriterion (and if you’re looking for Amsterdam style tips in general, be sure to check out my upcoming post on fashion and shopping). However, Kriterion is an inviting place. It can be hard to find a table, but once you do you immediately feel cozy. Drinks are cheap; a cappuccino is €2.60. The music varies immensely but is always something very cool, as the students who run the place just put on their own music. One of my favorite playlists was full of 60s reggae and rocksteady hits, straight from the renowned Studio 1, which is some of my favorite music. Another day I remember hearing various African jazz tunes that I knew. Despite the great music, I find it quite easy to focus in there, and have had some of my most productive and enjoyable study sessions to date at Kriterion (this is not entirely true; because all the customers and employees are so cool, I can’t help but glance at the door every time someone walks in). I have also had some of my most pleasant hangouts there. I almost always see someone I know when I’m at Kriterion, and it is the perfect place to run into a friend and grab a quick drink with them. 

I have not frequented the theater enough to really comment on it thoroughly, though I am studying in Amsterdam in the spring semester as well, so I plan on going more often. I saw Killer of the Flower Moon with a friend, which was a good movie, and I enjoyed the theater experience. The theaters are not huge but still spacious, with big red leather seats. I also saw an audio/visual performance by a University of Amsterdam guitarist, which was pretty cool but nothing groundbreaking. Either way, it is valuable that Kriterion provides a space for student performers. 

I guarantee that you will like Kriterion. It is affordable, and the vibe is unbeatable. It is easy to get to from all housing locations by bike, and of course it’s on one of the main University of Amsterdam campuses which makes it very convenient. Chat with friends, drink a cappuccino, study, read a good book, go on a date, people watch, or see a movie at Kriterion. I hope to see you there next semester!

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Kees Lynch

Despite being a history major and studying history at the UvA this year, I am a passionate musician. I have been playing piano for over a decade, focusing largely on jazz, but I love to play guitar, banjo, and mandolin in my free time!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Skidmore College
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