The year started full steam ahead as we continued tracking down the projection booths of Amsterdam! This time we headed to the old ‘Pathologisch Anatomisch Laboratorium’ on Arie Biedmondstraat 111 that is now home to a number of art related organisations.
LAB Amsterdam is one of such organisations, designed to reunite film enthusiasts around through food and films. After extensive renovation work, LAB recently reopened as a twofold project that encompasses a cinema and a restaurant. The restaurant Strangelove already denounces this inextricable cinephilic association.
LAB’s film program is rather diverse, far-ranging and covers a bit of everything from second run features, to art house films, documentaries and cult classics. To even, one of LAB’s most extraordinary events held on the last Friday of the month a ‘Straight to Video’ night where the most offbeat B-titles are screened in VHS to a bemused, but secretly riveted, audience of VHS connoisseurs and film buffs alike.
Willem Van Rossum, a former volunteer now head of film programming and an avid VHS collector, was kind enough to show us around the newly renovated premises. Enthusiastically Willem explained LAB ethos to make cinema fun again by combining food, cinema and to cultivate an experience. This is accomplished firstly by trying to give personalised introductions for most films which ‘gives a face to the cinema’ and shows that the staff and volunteers love and care for movies. Furthermore, The curators at LAB try to curate a programme that can be linked with bigger releases throughout the city by showing accompanying programmes that compliment what is being shown elsewhere.
The projection booths at LAB currently host two screening rooms. The larger of the two ‘Zaal 1’ often shows second run films, special screenings, classics and documentaries. Willem’s “other office” is a fully equipped digital projection booth that comprises of a Dolby CP750 Digital Cinema Processor and a NEC DLP Projector.
‘Zaal 4’ is a smaller screening room and it is more oriented towards lesser digital files, Blu-ray’s and VHS screenings. It has a DLP projector, a rack with 3 Crown XLS1000 two-channel power amplifiers, a DENON player for Pro-res Blu-ray’s and a DENON VHS player. Zaal 4 is suitable for specialty screenings and smaller events. From our visit it was clear that it doesn’t matter which zaal you see a film in, the feeling of LAB is always intimate due to the enthusiasm of its staff and its eclectic programme.
In conclusion, there is a strange love indeed running through this gezellig LAB, the love of merging two of the pastimes that (still) bring people together: that is, of course, sharing a meal and going to the movies.
It looks like Netflix still can’t beat this!
Text and Photos by Sofia Pires, additional text by Krystel Brown