A short history of the festival, using the often eye-catching posters as guidance

1996 - design: Fred Pelon

Between the years 1986 and 1991, the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Holland was taking place in Amsterdam taking place once every five years. Roze Filmdagen started in 1996 when it became clear that there wouldn’t be a third edition of the IGLFH festival. A number of employees of Filmhuis Cavia and Rialto thought it was high time for a specific festival with feature films and documentaries about the queer community.

Although a relatively reasonable number of films focusing on the queer community were screened in regular cinemas of the Netherlands, according to the organisation, a considerable number of films and documentaries had been left out that had rarely or never been screened in the Netherlands.

The supply of interesting films had increased over time and there were a variety of films to choose from, especially short films. Roze Filmdagen was symbolically planned around the annual commemoration of Stonewall and (Gay) Pride Amsterdam. With a small budget and limited resources (think of a program sheet made with Word Perfect), the first Roze Filmdagen from 27 to 30 June became a reality.

1997 - design: Fred Pelon

The first Roze Filmdagen left a lot of people wanting more, and therefore the second edition, a year later, was bigger. Having applied for funding and screening in several locations across the Netherlands, Roze Filmdagen became available to a larger audience without having to travel to Amsterdam.

In addition to 10 cities across the Netherlands, the newly founded Cinema de Balie was also involved in the program. The content of the films screened varied between political statements and culturally responsible production with (or without) humour that wasn’t always appreciated by every visitor.

1998 - design: Fred Pelon

The festival organisation decided to move the festival to the month of November. The month of June wasn’t ideal as most potential visitors were not available due to the summer holidays or the weather. This was also the year that Roze Filmdagen stopped screening at Film Theater Rialto, due to personnel changes and because the schedule of Rialto made it impossible to host numerous festivals in the course of one year.

The fact that pornographic content was also screened in addition to the more 'respectable' programming may have surprised some people, but it was a conscious choice from the organisation at the time; what’s more fun than watching a (more or less) responsible erotic film for women or men in a sweaty and cramped room? Additionally, the taboo-breaking screening of the first transgender porn in 1998 led to mixed reactions from the audience. During the screening of “Alley of the Tranny Boys”, a large part of the audience unfortunately walked away.

1999 - design: Fred Pelon

For the fourth edition of Roze Filmdagen, Amsterdam’s International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, moved once again the festival dates from November to December. Until 2008, the festival would consistently take place just before Christmas. For the 1999 edition, the special focus of the festival was on films from East Asia and the Asian Diaspora.

Titles like “Gymhomo” or “Lipstick Pussy” captured the imagination of the audience and set a good example for a long series of popular thematic programmes with short films that are a distinctive and a regular part of the festival programme. Cinema de Balie and Filmhuis Cavia were Roze Filmdagen’s regular base of operations for many years.

2000 - design: Arthur Mau

The fifth edition of Roze Filmdagen took place December 10-24, 2000 in Filmhuis Cavia and Cinema de Balie. This year, the festival had a video lounge, a Hertenkamp marathon and a closing party. This edition of Roze Filmdagen had 35 screenings during which around eighty films were shown, short and long feature films as well as documentaries.

The themes of this edition circled around: global identity (films by filmmakers with a non-Dutch background), “Kangaroo-mix” (short films from Australia), Eurovision, “Op t’ Randje” (films about golden showers, voyeurism, and dark rooms), Indie-girls (films by independent female filmmakers) and even Horror. The diversity of the programme reflects and fits the diversity of the community.

To this day, diversity is always pursued in the organisation of the festival and the composition of the film programme.

2002 - design: Madison

The decision to skip a year resulted in a double 2002 edition with a spectacular opening party at the COC. Earlier that year the Roze Filmdagen organisation also sailed along during the Canal Parade for the first and only time. A special “Coming Out” day was organised in cooperation with the youth magazine “Expreszo”.

With the “Onontkoombare Noodlot” (the inevitable fate), together with the FIlmmuseum (now EYE) in the Vondelpark, we cinematographically looked into the past and the future towards the fate of many queer characters in film. If they did not commit suicide, they definitely did not make it to the end of the film. This phenomenon was very common in the past, but also a recurring outcome in 2002.

Another important and underexposed theme was that of the “Gay Arab”. For this edition, partly because of the theme, the festival trailer was produced by students of the Film Academy. This was also the year that our volunteers were recognizable through their special T-shirts!

2003 - design: Pedro B Neves

ROZE FILMDAGEN GOES NORDIQ: The first of the three short film festival editions.

Initially, after the 2000 edition there was an option to make the festival biennial; the cost of the festival was too much for the volunteers to organise an ever growing festival annually. Upon reflection this decision did not find the audience on its side, as it clearly needed an annual cinematographic event. Some of the new organisation members also reconsidered this decision. To avoid skipping a festival year, a variant was set up; a festival that was devoted entirely to Scandinavia.

Special note: this year the first ever “gay” film was screened, the silent film “Wings” by Vigarne. Based on the story of Icarus, this Swedish film from 1916 was screened at the film museum with live piano accompaniment.

The T-shirt variation of the poster, featured two kissing moose, became a very popular collectors item.

2004 - design: Pedro B Neves

The 2004 edition poster had a moving version; with rings rotating in opposite directions of the poster design. The inspiration for the poster was drawn both from the iris of the eye and the camera lens and our campaign for this year was featured as a commercial on Amsterdam streetcars!

Through its collaboration with the Film museum, Roze Filmdagen, the festival had its opening at the Cinerama (on Marnixstraat) with a spectacular martial arts film from Hong Kong (combined with the sweet sounds of the Carpenters). Themes that year included: “We’re not Urban” about gays and lesbians in rural areas and “Embrace your Dark Side” featuring genres like thriller, horror, and action.

With these, the festival explored the darker sides of the gay character; this time however, not as the victim, but as the perpetrator. This year Roze Filmdagen organised a party around the theme “Embrace your Dark Side” at the catacombs of a former church on the Haarlemmerstraat.

2005 - design: Pedro B Neves

Another one of our smaller editions this time called “The Long Weekend of Short Films”. As the title suggests, the programme screened exclusively short films.

Part of the program was curated from the collection of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. The agreed financial support form the Canadian Embassy was almost withdrawn because the program title “Beautiful Bras & Bulging Briefs” gave them the idea that porn was featured in the programme and they did not want to commit to it. Screening porn, however, had long ceased to be a part of the festival.

2006 - design: Niels Schrader

Although the design was misunderstood by many, this year’s poster is one of the most special and unique graphic designs we’ve chosen up to date. The poster is composed of all the film titles of the 2006 programme and arranged alphabetically from top to bottom. The colour indicates the nature of the film: a feature, documentary or a short film. The thickness of the lines determines the length of the film. There were three colour variations: pink, blue and yellow.

The concept was further expanded with a longer trailer that included cross-sections of film stills moving to music. The festival had its opening night at the then-unrenovated City Theatre. Filmtheater “De Uitkijk” was also added as a venue for the first time! What was also special was the opening party on the 11th, on the top floor of the former Post CS building and the closing party at “Vrankrijk”, which once again proved the broadness and diversity of our community.

An important theme in this edition was “Films from the New Europe”; through films and debate attention was drawn to discussing the rights (and their place in society) of sexual minorities in Central Europe.

2007 - design: Niels Schrader

The 2007 was the last of the small editions of Roze Filmdagen, called the Compact Edition. This time there was no particular focus or theme, but a mini version of a bigger idea we had in mind. The poster was again constructed with an alphabetical order of all film titles of that year, but the lines were now in a black/white/grey variant due to the fact that this was a scaled down version of the festival.

After this edition it was decided that Roze Filmdagen would take a big leap forward and further our growth to offer a metropolis like Amsterdam the annual festival that it deserves. Influencing this decision was the judgment of the organization that producing a smaller edition takes a lot of time and energy that would be better spent on a larger edition.

2008 - design: Sander Plug

For the first time Roze Filmdagen had special men’s and women’s posters; the designer used a metaphor to symbolise the two genders with table-legs and plant pots. We kept noticing that women and men kept opting for different films during the festival.

“OBA’s” new location in Oosterdokseiland became Roze FIlmdagen’s new venue for the first time partly because of this year’s theme “Based on the Novel”. On the other hand, this was the last time that screenings were happening at De Balie and Filmhuis Cavia.

An interesting fact during this edition was that an ambulance needed to be called in for visitors that were feeling unwell. Roze Filmdagen decided to change its name slightly by adding a subtitle: “Amsterdam Gay & Lesbian Film Festival”. This was a direct consequence of the increasing number of international visitors.

2010 - design: Lernert & Sander

Unfortunately a 2009 edition was not possible due to a lack of financial security. Therefore the 13th edition of Roze FIlmdagen was delayed by three months and moved to spring; March was popular to our audience as a festival month.

Amsterdam Alderman of culture Carolien Gehrels opened this year’s Roze Filmdagen. The iconic posters of “Grease” and “Casablanca” were given a queer twist with a simple fold that allowed John Travolta to intimately stand against Humphrey Bogart and Olivia Newton-John to pose cheek to cheek to Ingrid Bergman. Once again following suit and having a “men’s” and “women’s” poster. The posters were nominated for 2 Dutch Design Awards.

Additionally, although the festival organisers thought that the Roze Filmdagen were used to surprises by now; people still reacted to the short horror film “Weak Species” either by leaving the room shocked or angry or people who were scared beyond comparison. For several years now, we would get the feedback of the audience after the film ended, resulting in having “audience favourites” by the end of the festival. This year, we welcomed our jury for the first time! A youth jury, consisting of the “Gay-Straight Alliance” that chose the best youth film.

This year one of our wishes came true: having a big part of the festival organised in an appealing location: Cinema het Ketelhuis on the Westergasterrein. That was a big step forward for Roze Filmdagen that was met with success as, as many as 5,000 visitors managed to find their way into our festival. Roze Filmdagen received its first “Best Film Festival” nomination from “Time Out Amsterdam”.

2011 - design: Lernert & Sander

Following the success of the previous posters working with two iconic film posters and folding them; the concept was applied again. This time our designer turned “Dirty Dancing” and “Pretty Woman”, allowing Richard Gere to rub shoulders with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey to lean against Julia Roberts.

The festival took place for the first time entirely at Het Ketelhuis and received a “Best Film Festival” nomination from “Time Out” magazine for the second time. The youth jury was now joined by an elderly jury. Then Amsterdam mayor Van der Laan opened the festival and this edition broke another record amassing 6,000 visitors!

Highlights of our side program included the “Speechmakers” with Dutch celebrities and the self-produced exhibition “Modern Family”. In response to the homonymous festival theme, a number of non-traditional forms of living of Roze Filmdagen visitors were captured on camera for this purpose.

Visitors also noticed that the festival itself was recorded in small festival reports: the “FestBits”.

2012 - design: DAWN

A news event that caused controversy worldwide prompted the design of the 2012 poster. Two penguins, Buddy and Pedro who got along very well at the Toronto Zoo, were separated by the zookeepers to reproduce with the opposite sex. In the 2012 poster campaign, as a tribute to love, two new gay icons were introduced in three variations.

Another festival trailer was also produced this year. The concept for it is separate from the idea of the poster, but has a corresponding colour palette of pink, black and white.

The 15th edition of the festival was a lot bigger again, with three juries coming to the conclusion of four audience favourites and seven film prizes distributed. The poster ended up winning a bronze prize at the International Film Festival Poster Awards. Because this was our 15th edition, there was an exhibition at IHLIA where all the posters were on display from the beginning of the festival!

2013 - design: DAWN

Following the success of the two penguins, the poster for 2013 was recycled from the 2012 concept. The only difference was the background colour, which was now a blueish-grey instead of pink, but the celebration recognition was still in the forefront.

Filmmakers considered it an honour to put the award logo on their website or on the DVD cover of their films. But even closer to home, the laurel-wreaths could be seen everywhere. For example, during festival week, cars of main sponsor Peugeot drove around with the award logo.

The opening night of the festival was a grand event taking place at the EYE; with the rest of the festival taking place in Het Ketelhuis. The third edition of the increasingly popular Roze Filmdagen Pub Quiz was moved from the Queen's Head to PRIK.

2014 - design: Mannschaft

A big change this year was the expansion of the festival at the Westergasfabriek venue. The MC Theater was involved during the Opening Night, side-programming and organising the Danserette party. A successful sponsor dinner was also organised prior to the festival.

The A5 program booklet gave way to a real festival newspaper. Although the award logo (laurel wreath with penguin silhouette) is still visibly present, this year's design was based on Caravaggio's painting Narcissus.

Masculinity, femininity, identity and reflection were some of the themes the design incorporated, which resonated with the target audience. The number of programs, the number of films and the number of visitors all grew significantly.

Dolly Bellefleur presented the award ceremonies for the third time during Closing Night.

2015 - design: Mannschaft

The inspiration for the poster was drawn from a number of movie staples, such as the 20th Century Fox logo and movie credits. The penguin laurel wreaths of our logo were also given a very prominent place.

Even Roze Filmdagen made sure to have an inclusive programme from day one of the festival, only this year the subtitle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival was switched to LGBTQ Film Festival for a more inclusive designation.

The absolute highlight this year was the world premiere of Over the Rainbow, a homegrown documentary about Leny Wiggers, a woman who was a role model for many, both old and young. A unique and positive story about a woman who came out of the closet at age 68 and then threw herself fully into lesbianism to make up for lost time. The fact that Leny had been a loyal visitor to the festival for many years made the screenings extra special.

2016 - design: Mannschaft + Henri Verhoef

A real photoshoot for the poster showing four tough, heroic and challenging characters was chosen for this year's poster, giving them all a superhero aura; forces that are within us, but that we see too little on the big screen.

Ellie Lust (at that time still a police spokesperson and figurehead of Pink in Blue) was guest of honour and performed for the opening night. Another special moment was the themed program focusing on LGBTQ people with physical or mental disabilities.

The poster of the Dutch documentary “Weg van de Kerk” (a documentary about the search for sexual identity and club church) caused some controversy as it was showing enlarged naked buttocks in a jockstrap.

2017 - design: Project ZuiderBurg

The concept of movie posters featuring queer heroes was continued, but with a different genre of film. The dystopian-looking image of the recreated science fiction film may have been the darkest of all the posters, but it once again placed LGBTQ heroes on a pedestal, as they were portrayed as the sole and strong survivors of a bygone world. After a studio shoot with non-professional models from our own community, the setting was constructed from various photographs of bleak settings. The concept was so successful that a lot of our visitors were asking when this “film” would be screened during the festival!

For the first time, a short film got its own premiere screening “Scar Tissue”. The film is about the Syrian refugee Sami who stays in an asylum centre and experiences a one-night stand with Dutch Johan, which becomes an intimate but confrontational encounter.

The premiere was followed by a panel discussion that addressed various issues surrounding LGBTQ refugees and perfectly aligned with the focus program featuring migrant and bicultural stories.

2018 - design: Soopknife Graphics

After several designers were asked to pitch a new poster campaign, the choice fell on an animated version of "our" figureheads Buddy & Pedro.

A new feature this year was the presentation of the Hivos “Free To Be Me Award”, the first of an annual highlight. This award is awarded by Hivos to a film that contributes strongly to the acceptance of LGBTQ people in a country where that is not a given. Indian director Sridhar Rangayan was present at the screening of Evening Shadows and the first to receive the award.

Also a new addition this year was 48 HOUR - PINK. A global film competition making its appearance in Amsterdam for a colourful edition with the task for creators to make an LGBTQ-related film in 48 hours. The genre, a prop, a character and a mandatory line of dialogue are only assigned at the start of the 48 hours.

This year, in addition to a Finnish intern serving as a production assistant, there were a number of unique films from Finland on display, including the biopic on Tom of Finland. They are the creator of famous homoerotic pencil drawings of hyper-masculine men. A few works from the complementary Tom of Finland exhibition on the mezzanine of het Ketelhuis were covered during the day because there was some material on display that was not suitable to children.

2019 - design: Soopknife Graphics

Due to the success of our latest campaign, the two penguins were welcomed once again with family additions. The equally cute trio now adorned the poster and coloured the city of Amsterdam. For het Ketelhuis, the designer had also varied on the queer family theme, playing with clichés that produced 14 or so cheerful (and with plenty of positive self-mockery) queer penguin portraits through the variety of sexual diversity expressions.

A major theme program, in addition to Religion and Sports and Diversity, was the “50 Shades of Activism” program. Because this edition took place 50 years after Stonewall, various forms of activism were shown through films and documentaries. Both as a look at the past, as well as certainly focused on the activism that is still taking place today in the struggle for emancipation and freedom of LGBTQ people.

2020 - design: Soopknife Graphics

The poster featured a penguin (again an animated version of it) projecting film through a “pink” gaze.

Just hours before the festival was about to start, following the first-ever COVID-19 press conference on March 12, Roze Filmdagen was cancelled because of the proclaimed lockdown that was in effect immediately. An surreal situation presented itself.

Guests en route to the opening performance had to turn right around and return. International guests (the biggest number we ever welcomed), had trouble finding a return flight with two of them spending 6 months in the Netherlands.

In the fall we organised another six weekend series of alternative screenings under the name Roze Filmdagen REDUX, so that part of the program could still be enjoyed on the big screen, albeit with limited seating. The designer had come up with a fun variation of the original design for the decoration of Het Ketelhuis: graphic remakes of recognizable movie posters/themes with (parts of) the penguins as building blocks. As a unifying element, there was an animal as a hero on the poster or in the movie title: Jaws, Jurassic Park, Batman, 101 Dalmatians and Spiderman, among others, built from hundreds of penguins and penguin eyes.

There was also another highlight in this complicated festival year: 'our' entry for the prestigious international Iris Prize, Victoria Warmerdam's short film KORTE KUITSPIER, won first prize in Cardiff, winning £30,000.

2021 - design: Soopknife Graphics

Since the 2020 poster was practically unused, it was given a refresh by replacing the background colour and was fine to adorn another year for a festival that would once again turn out differently than imagined. Cinemas were not open and there was even a curfew, so the entire festival was organised online.

A number of films played daily at set times in the evening; the programs with short films could be viewed on demand.

The side-program was also given an online variant. Four talk shows titled Weekend Talks were recorded in advance and remotely in Felix Meritis. These gave in-depth information on the festival themes and queer filmmaking. The talk shows were always put online on a weekend afternoon and from then on were unlimited and free to watch.

2022 - design: Mannschaft

The anniversary edition poster pays tribute to all 24 festival predecessors. Even though for a number of years now all films screened at the festival have been shown digitally, the film reel remains a recognizable icon when it comes to film. The different variants of the reel also depict film history, using the historical posters as film strips.

This year's festival was hybrid: it could be visited both physically and online. Again supplemented by (this year six) online Weekend Talks.