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For some TU foreign students, Filmhuis-Lumen is a valued and vital cultural meeting point and melting pot in Delft. Yet, the financially strapped Filmhuis has been slow to capitalise on the growing numbers of foreign students residing here.

It’s a Thursday evening, and small clusters of foreign students are seated in Filmhuis-Lumen’s lounge, drinking and chatting, surrounded by antique movie projectors that give one the feeling of being at the crossroad of films and filmmaking, past and present. Filmhuis-Lumen specialises in showing independent and ‘foreign’ (i.e. not just American) films, which are often experimental and almost always intelligent and unusual. Here, movie-lovers get a cultural experience that’s not offered by Delft’s mainstream ‘Hollywood’ cinemas.“These are movies which would otherwise never be seen,” says Jérome van Dam, Chairman of Filmhuis-Lumen’s governing committee. He’s one of 80 volunteers of this foundation, which is the centrepiece of independent film in Delft. “The movies we show aren’t made according to a pre-specified framework, like most blockbuster movies,” Van Dam says. “Coming from different countries, the movies are diverse in every sense, meaning different story lines, ways of storytelling and cinema photography.”Founded in 1974, at a time in the Netherlands when left-wing ideologues were reacting against what they perceived to be an overly conservative society, Filmhuis-Lumen was meant to be an instrument of critical expression and an outlet for different beliefs. “We wanted to show people that more and different values, norms and ideas about life exist. We wanted to let people think,” Van Dam says, adding that this underlying idea has remained the same ever since, although nowadays passionate debates about films are no longer commonplace.Monica Altamirano, a SEPA student from Nicaragua, says the fact that a “Filmhuis movie” makes you think is exactly what intriguers her. “The film Good Bye Lenin reminded me that in my country, which is a communist country, the fall of the Berlin Wall wasn’t even shown on the news, while the movie Adaptation made me really think about life,” she says. “The movies shown at the Filmhuis can’t be labelled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they’re just different and therefore special.”Located on the Doelenplein, Filmhuis-Lumnen’s lounge, with its minimalist interior, soft lighting and glass walls, exudes a serene sense of relaxation. Gabriel Duarte, an architecture student from Brazil and self-confessed “film lover”, enjoys hanging out in the lounge with his friends. “I love the ambience of the theatre, because during the intervals everybody goes to the lounge and discusses the movie, and this creates an exciting atmosphere,” he says.That Filmhuis-Lumen provides a diverse range of movies is what especially attracts Elizabeth Correa, an architecture MSc student from the United States. “The Filmhuis is an important cultural place for foreign students, because it shows movies from different countries and shows them in the original version,” Correa says. “Because they carefully select the movies they show, you can almost always guarantee that a film you go to see, even if you’re not familiar with it, will be something worthwhile.”PublicityFilmhuis-Lumen organizes film festivals throughout the year, with the focus being on some particular aspect of filmmaking or on a specific country. “Last year, we had a festival of Spanish movies, while over the course of this year we’ll have a Music & Animation film festival and a Norwegian film weekend,” Van Dam says.Filmhuis-Lumen will also focus on a specific theme, such as Westerns or the work of a certain director. Van Dam: “We will then for example show the films that were important in the development of the Western-genre style of moviemaking or invite a director to come and discuss his or her films.”Although Duarte is a regular Filmhuis-Lumen patron, he believes the concept of the Filmhuis isn’t as widely known among the foreign community as it should be. “However, the foreign students who are interested, go there often,” he says. Van Dam agrees with this, while also stressing that during the festivals, the theatre is filled with foreigners.Van Dam admits, however, that over the course of the year, there are fewer foreign patrons than there should be. He attributes this mainly to the fact that Filmhuis-Lumen’s marketing efforts haven’t significantly targeted Delft’s foreign community. “We have to pay more attention to focused publicity,” he says, “although this will be difficult because of our limited budget.”Asked if he will choose, for example, to show more Chinese movies, now that there’s a large and growing number of Chinese students at the TU, Van Dam says, “We’re restricted by the supply of good movies, and we already often show Chinese movies. We only have to communicate better.”

It’s a Thursday evening, and small clusters of foreign students are seated in Filmhuis-Lumen’s lounge, drinking and chatting, surrounded by antique movie projectors that give one the feeling of being at the crossroad of films and filmmaking, past and present. Filmhuis-Lumen specialises in showing independent and ‘foreign’ (i.e. not just American) films, which are often experimental and almost always intelligent and unusual. Here, movie-lovers get a cultural experience that’s not offered by Delft’s mainstream ‘Hollywood’ cinemas.“These are movies which would otherwise never be seen,” says Jérome van Dam, Chairman of Filmhuis-Lumen’s governing committee. He’s one of 80 volunteers of this foundation, which is the centrepiece of independent film in Delft. “The movies we show aren’t made according to a pre-specified framework, like most blockbuster movies,” Van Dam says. “Coming from different countries, the movies are diverse in every sense, meaning different story lines, ways of storytelling and cinema photography.”Founded in 1974, at a time in the Netherlands when left-wing ideologues were reacting against what they perceived to be an overly conservative society, Filmhuis-Lumen was meant to be an instrument of critical expression and an outlet for different beliefs. “We wanted to show people that more and different values, norms and ideas about life exist. We wanted to let people think,” Van Dam says, adding that this underlying idea has remained the same ever since, although nowadays passionate debates about films are no longer commonplace.Monica Altamirano, a SEPA student from Nicaragua, says the fact that a “Filmhuis movie” makes you think is exactly what intriguers her. “The film Good Bye Lenin reminded me that in my country, which is a communist country, the fall of the Berlin Wall wasn’t even shown on the news, while the movie Adaptation made me really think about life,” she says. “The movies shown at the Filmhuis can’t be labelled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they’re just different and therefore special.”Located on the Doelenplein, Filmhuis-Lumnen’s lounge, with its minimalist interior, soft lighting and glass walls, exudes a serene sense of relaxation. Gabriel Duarte, an architecture student from Brazil and self-confessed “film lover”, enjoys hanging out in the lounge with his friends. “I love the ambience of the theatre, because during the intervals everybody goes to the lounge and discusses the movie, and this creates an exciting atmosphere,” he says.That Filmhuis-Lumen provides a diverse range of movies is what especially attracts Elizabeth Correa, an architecture MSc student from the United States. “The Filmhuis is an important cultural place for foreign students, because it shows movies from different countries and shows them in the original version,” Correa says. “Because they carefully select the movies they show, you can almost always guarantee that a film you go to see, even if you’re not familiar with it, will be something worthwhile.”PublicityFilmhuis-Lumen organizes film festivals throughout the year, with the focus being on some particular aspect of filmmaking or on a specific country. “Last year, we had a festival of Spanish movies, while over the course of this year we’ll have a Music & Animation film festival and a Norwegian film weekend,” Van Dam says.Filmhuis-Lumen will also focus on a specific theme, such as Westerns or the work of a certain director. Van Dam: “We will then for example show the films that were important in the development of the Western-genre style of moviemaking or invite a director to come and discuss his or her films.”Although Duarte is a regular Filmhuis-Lumen patron, he believes the concept of the Filmhuis isn’t as widely known among the foreign community as it should be. “However, the foreign students who are interested, go there often,” he says. Van Dam agrees with this, while also stressing that during the festivals, the theatre is filled with foreigners.Van Dam admits, however, that over the course of the year, there are fewer foreign patrons than there should be. He attributes this mainly to the fact that Filmhuis-Lumen’s marketing efforts haven’t significantly targeted Delft’s foreign community. “We have to pay more attention to focused publicity,” he says, “although this will be difficult because of our limited budget.”Asked if he will choose, for example, to show more Chinese movies, now that there’s a large and growing number of Chinese students at the TU, Van Dam says, “We’re restricted by the supply of good movies, and we already often show Chinese movies. We only have to communicate better.”

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