On the Roof Film Festival 2017

Films that will change the way you view the world. Make a note in your diary: On the Roof Film Festival (OTR) will take place the roof of VU Amsterdam from 5 to 8 September 2017. For four evenings the latest films from world cinema will be screened in the open air, with breathtaking panoramic views over the city of Amsterdam. With talks from Bas Heijne, Mounir Samuel and others. And, of course, plenty of music, snacks and drinks. Read about the selected films below.

Tickets are available to order from 1 August.

Follow us on

Sustainable edition

During the week of the festival, VU Amsterdam will be focusing on the theme Science for Sustainability. The Institute for Environmental Studies and the Green Office will be helping to organize all sorts of sustainable activities on campus, including discussions on innovative sustainable initiatives, a masterclass on the political climate debate, a sustainable lunch, and of course, film screenings. The first OTR film on 5 September is the extremely apt How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change by Josh Fox.

The whole programme for the Sustainable Week will soon be available to view here, along with inspirational videos and vlogs.


Tuesday 5 september: How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change
Watch the trailer
How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change

In this documentary, Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox travels to twelve different countries across the six continents to investigate the much-debated topic of climate change. The film shows both Josh’s personal take on the ‘largest threat the world has ever known’ and the views of other public figures, such as Michael Mann (director), Elizabeth Kolbert (journalist), Bill McKibben (journalist and activist), and Van Jones (activist). “By making this film, we put our faith in the rest of the world. That faith has been returned in the most tremendous way,” Josh told Down to Earth Magazine

Between dinner and the film: Talkshow on innovative sustainable initiatives at VU Amsterdam.  

Wednesday 6 september: The Wound
Watch the trailer
The Wound

This extremely intense film directed by John Trengrove looks at the anthropological aspects of traditional initiation rituals for adolescent boys in South Africa. In the Ulwaluko ritual, boys are circumcized before being confined to a hut for a period of a few weeks. Factory worker Xolani, played by gay rights activist Nakhane Touré, supervises the Ulwaluko ritual. 16 year-old Kwanda from Johannesburg opposes the initiation. But he is the one to discover that Xolani is secretly gay. This ritual has been a strong topic of discussion since Nelson Mandela wrote about it in his autobiography.

Introduction and post-film discussion led by Bas Heijne, columnist for the NRC newspaper and VU Amsterdam Writer in Residence.

Thursday 7 september: Mawlana (The Preacher)
Watch the trailer

People in Egypt queued outside the cinema to see this political thriller by Magdy Ahmed Aly. However, Mawlana wasn’t a hit with the religious authorities. Young sheikh Hatem experiences rather an unusual career change: from leading prayers in a state mosque to becoming a famous TV personality. In his programme, Hatem answers viewers’ questions on religion. A witty and eloquent man, he soon becomes popular with a wide audience. But his opposition to fundamentalism attracts the attention of a number of shady characters. 

Introduction and post-film discussion led by Mounir Samuel, writer and Middle East specialist.

Friday 8 september: Newton
More information

This cynical political comedy was produced in India. Newton, a young official, is put in charge of a polling station for 76 voters in the remote area of Chhattisgarh in central India. For years, this conflict-ridden jungle has been plagued by regular skirmishes between the Indian army and the communist guerrilla movement. Despite the conditions being far from ideal, Newton is determined to do a good job. But his attitude irritates Atma Singh, the local army commander. This, and the fact that the local population takes zero interest in the election, results in a number of outrageous scenes in this humorous film by Amit Masurkar.

Between dinner and the film: Masterclass on political climate debates.

On the Roof Film Festival

On the Roof Film Festival is organized by VU Amsterdam, De Griffioen Cultural Centre, RialtoVU Association en Het Filmgesprek. The films have been specially selected for VU Amsterdam from the World Cinema Amsterdam Festival programme. The film nights are sponsored by Filmtechniek and Il Caffè Eten en Drinken.