Bucket List Worthy
The European film festival scene is one of the most coveted in the world, as it attracts an international audience of celebrities, filmmakers, and cinephiles who could talk movies for hours. For Europe, 2018 is gearing up to be an unforgettable year in the magical world of motion pictures, as a diverse blend of festivals will be offered. These festivals feature everything from mountaineering, love, ice climbing, human rights, animation, films that were shot in one take, and so much more.
An extra bonus of European film festivals is that they land you in some of the most historic, stunning, and culturally compelling towns and cities. So, you’ll get to enjoy a carefully-vetted assortment of films, while also gaining the opportunity to explore prime destinations like the Louvre, the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, or Iceland‘s Blue Lagoon. And, festivals in countries such as Croatia, France, Finland, Greece, and Armenia offer a unique opportunity to be steeped in ancient history, while also being exposed to cutting-edge concepts and techniques in filmmaking – you get it all.
But, because not all festivals are created equal, and not all film-lovers have the same taste, we’ve compiled and organized a list of the Best European Film Festivals of 2018 to simplify your travel plans and enhance your immersion in all things cinema.
An eclectic affair, the Prague Independent Film Festival features a wide array of film professionals from up-and-comers to internationally recognized directors, producers and stars, such as Konstantin Khabensky, Lazar Ristovski, and Angelo Orlando. The festival includes film screenings and various social activities that allow attendees to soak in the beauty and culture of the heart of Europe. English speaking guests will appreciate that all films are in English, or have English subtitles.
A meeting place of the most innovative and thought-provoking Austrian filmmakers, the 22-year-old Diagonale Festival allows attendees to revel in the best of Austrian cinema amidst the backdrop of the Styrian capital. This gathering for film enthusiasts screens roughly 100 current feature, documentary, and short films, and awards Austria’s most highly coveted film awards.
The only Belgian film festival located on the seaside, Film Festival Oostende screens Flemish and Belgian films while also hosting two international film competitions: LOOK! and Taste of Europe. The LOOK! competition focuses on the aesthetic qualities of cinema, and the Taste of Europe competition is dedicated to European films that never made it to the Belgian cinema. Over the eleven years the festival has been running they’ve welcomed guests such as, Pierce Brosnan, Adrien Brody, Moran Atias, Steven Knight, Anton Corbijn, Jane Birkin, Dominic Cooper, and more.
With a name like Love & Anarchy you can be sure this festival will bring the cinematic intrigue with the 170 feature film and 190 short film screenings they will offer. HIFF has become known for screening some of the most high-quality, daring and alternative films, in addition to a rich package of cinema-related events.
This festival promotes the artistry of filmmaking and provides exposure to controversial and visually stunning new films. In past years the festival has had the honour of welcoming guests such as Danny Boyle, John Woo, Gaspar Noé, Tilda Swinton, Baz Luhrmann, Pilou Asbæk, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Jacques Audiard.
Valletta Film Festival offers 10 days of suburb independent cinema from all over the world. 40 feature films and 28 short films are shown in a variety of out-door and in-door venues in Europe’s smallest Capital City, and UNESCO world heritage site. When attendees aren’t enjoying the films, they can explore Valletta’s exquisite seventeenth-century baroque architecture, and the warm Mediterranean Sea.
A celebration of the world’s best independent filmmaking, ECU is dedicated to the discovery and advancement of the very best independent filmmakers from around the world, and provides a unique platform for risk-taking storytellers to reach the broadest audience possible. And, as the location of the festival is in one of the most romantic and coveted travel-destinations in the world, you’re sure to have a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
A cinephile’s dream, Black Nights Film Festival screens an extensive and diverse selection of world-class cinema at various locations in Tallinn, including cinemas, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. The town becomes a buzzing celebration of culture and entertainment.
Founded in 1997, PÖFF is the only A-category film festival in Northern Europe, and has two international competition programmes and two independent sub-festivals, features over 600 films, and hosts over 1,200 film professionals and journalists. Don’t miss out on the largest cultural event in Estonia.
The only festival in Germany entirely devoted to the presentation of films from the Nordic and Baltic countries of Europe, Nordische Filmtage Lübeck is both a festival for film enthusiasts and an important meeting place for film industry professionals from Germany and northern Europe. In addition, there is an extensive children’s and youth film programme, and a retrospective devoted to important eras, specific genres, and famous figures of film history. Accompanying the film programme are seminars, discussions, roundtable talks, concerts, and readings.
The Viennale International Film Festival offers a host of high quality films in a relaxed urban atmosphere. Carefully vetted films of every genre are screened, which showcase bold filmmaking that stands apart from the aesthetics of mainstream conventionality. The festival receives regular international acclaim for its large-scale retrospectives on relevant aspects of film history, and offers special programs and tributes dedicated to important personalities and institutions in filmmaking. And, as the festival takes place in autumn, attendees get to enjoy Vienna when it is at its best.
One of the few festivals dedicated to independent and art house cinema, the 30-year-old Exground Filmfest highlights independent film from around the world that offer special insights into diverse cultures and subcultures. Competitions include, American Independents, Made in Germany, and International. They also offer short-film programs and films for youth. When you have breaks between films, be sure to check out the Gutenberg Museum, Mainz Cathedral, or Rhensteig.
Reykjavík International Film Festival – one of the biggest and most diverse cultural events in Iceland – transforms the most northerly capital in the world into a hub of cinematic celebration. For eleven days, locals and tourists alike are able to experience the best and freshest of international filmmaking.
Attendees can also meet and chat with directors, attend panels and workshops, concerts and exhibitions, and watch interesting films under interesting conditions, for instance, in a swimming pool, or in the filmmaker’s home. And, you might get lucky and score an epic Northern Lights show.
A warm and personal atmosphere between filmmakers and audience is created at the Film Festival Münster, which has three competitions in the categories of feature and short film. Also offered are film workshops for children and young adults, as well as a symposium addressing alternative ways of filmmaking.
The oldest competitive festival in Westphalia, presented by the Filmwerkstatt Münster since 1981, Film Festival Münster has become firmly established within the festival scene over the last 38 years.
Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, Riga International Film Festival 2ANNAS is the oldest short film festival in the Baltic States and screens films ranging from short to mid-length that utilize an innovative film language. The good times don’t end after the credits roll, as 2ANNAS is famous for its wild parties in unusual locations that exude a free-spirited atmosphere and ample creative expression. Come for the films, but stay for the parties.
A showcase of the creative and dynamic young filmmakers in Europe, the Festival Européen du Film Court de Brest is a great way to be introduced to filmmakers who will go on to present their films at prestigious festivals such as Cannes. Founded in 1986, this festival is the second largest short film festival in Europe and plays an important role in the local and regional cultural scene by offering the public an innovative cinematic event each year.
One of Europe’s most prestigious film festivals, the Tirana International Film Festival is an approved Academy Awards® qualifying festival, providing extraordinary opportunities for the filmmakers lucky enough to have their short films screened. And, the audience receives the exciting experience of getting a sneak peek at potential Academy Awards® contenders.
A festival rich in opportunities for film-related activities, the Short Film Festival in Drama offers programmes, screenings, professional labs, events for kids and adults, and book presentations in front of the Lake of Drama. And, the festive ambiance of this picturesque and historic Greek town, combined with the warm hospitality of its people, creates a well-rounded experience for those who crave a combination of travel, history, and film.
Odense International Film Festival is often touted as Denmark’s most cosy, courageous and adventurous short film festival, and offers a diverse and experimental film programme, packed with thought-provoking off-screen experiences, debates, workshops, concerts and much more. This is also Denmark‘s Oscar-qualifying short film festival, and with a 1975 birthday, is also the country’s oldest film festival. If you’re hoping to awaken your spirit of passion and creativity look no further than Odense International Film Festival.
One of the oldest film festivals in the world, the Pula Film Festival boasts the largest average number of visitors per screening, thanks in large part to the venues, one of which is the Romanian Amphitheater, which can accommodate 60,000 people. The screenings include the very best of Croatian cinema, and are mixed with international performances and exhibitions, in addition to engaging workshops for children. The festival culminates in the popular award ceremony, which is known as the “Croatian Oscars” where the “Golden Arena” prize is presented. And, if you want to diversify your trip, look no further than the Brijuni National Park, a group of 14 small islands in the Adriatic Sea.
Cycling enthusiasts will rejoice when they discover the International Cycling Film Festival, which is the leading festival for bicycle related films in Europe. This festival is a celebration of the vibrant cycling culture, and art house cinema, and awards the Goldene Kurbel, an award touted as “The Oscar” for bicycle films.
Powerful stories of mountaineering, outdoor exploration, and extreme sports are told through high quality art house films at the Dutch Mountain Film Festival. New and classic, mountain and sports films will be screened, in addition to an offering of mountain-related activities, lectures, exhibitions, and music. A prime space to meet, and get inspired by, a diverse group of explorers and filmmakers, this festival is a win for nature and sports lovers. And, you might just get the opportunity to watch a film in a cave.
The Innsbruck Nature Film Festival allows you to enjoy documentaries and short films focused on nature, the environment and sustainability, while also exploring the stunning landscape of Innsbruck, situated in the heart of the Alps.
This international festival attracts filmmakers from around the world and, in addition to the screenings, offers exhibitions, workshops and many other offerings that encourage an ecological and artistic discourse on the most pressing issues of our time.
The Snow Film Fest brings the best winter sports movies to over 200 cinemas in Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. One of the largest festivals of its kind, Snow Film Fest shows acclaimed films about winter sports, skiing, ice climbing, mountaineering, extraordinary polar expeditions and other winter pleasures from domestic and international filmmakers. Adventure-lovers and wanderlusters will be in heaven at this festival.
JEF is a unique youth festival that focuses on new media installations and games for children and young adults, presented in different media labs in Belgium. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for children and young people to create, experience, and critically review films. With numerous workshops, master classes, and films chosen by youngsters for youngsters, this festival aims to create a special space for children to explore and enjoy cinema.
Most things are better enjoyed on the beach, and film screenings are no exception. The DORF Film Festival features music documentaries that are shown on a warm Croatian beach near the Adriatic Sea. And, to keep the creative juices flowing this festival also offers complimentary photo and painting programmes, exhibitions, workshops, concerts, and book promotions. If you’re looking to refill your creative coffer, this festival is a must.
This is the go-to event for television-lovers as the Festival de Television de Monte-Carlo pays tribute to television stars, in addition to revealing new talent. Under the honorary presidency of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, the festival, celebrating its 58th year, will open with an ultra-glamourous ceremony that features exclusive screenings of new shows.
Attendees will be afforded the opportunity to meet international stars, attend “Behind the Scenes” conferences and screenings, and get the autographs of their favorite television personalities. As a festival that promises red-carpet ambiance, prestigious evening events, and VIP cocktail parties, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
The Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival carries the theme Crossroads of Cultures and Civilizations, which exemplifies their mission to build cultural bridges and foster dialogue around peace, cultural harmony and mutual understanding.
Films are screened that represent diverse ethnic groups, religions, and nations and depict the human experience – the everyday lives of people, ordinary and extraordinary, their troubles and their joys, as they try to find meaning in a changing world. This festival is a must for those hoping to take a deep dive into cultural exploration.
Say yes to a love-soaked, summer rendezvous in unique Tartu, where you can view a diverse selection of genre and documentary films, focusing on the themes of love. All screenings at the Tartu Love Film Festival Tartuff are accompanied by daily discussions, lectures and special events, some hosted in the biggest open-air cinema in the Baltics. This is a stellar opportunity to experience one of the most beloved summer festivals in Estonia.
If the wonderful world of colorful animation is your jam, the International Animation Film Festival & Market is for you. As the largest animation gathering in the world, this festival boasts 10,000 participants from more than 90 countries, and screens over 500 films.
In addition, they feature a number of sneak-peek previews of upcoming films, Work in Progress sessions, conferences, signing sessions and exhibitions, daring programmes and much more. Come and explore the colorful fantasy world of animation, in the magical land of France.
The International Human Rights Film Festival Albania is dedicated to promoting human rights and awakening the conscience of festival attendees. Live screenings, debates, Q&A sessions with authors and experts, music concerts, and forums are aimed at inspiring reflection on burning human rights topics. This is a casual yet passionate space to peer into topics that have a deep impact on individuals and the global community.
This wholly unique festival shows films that eliminate editing by being completed in one take – that’s right, only one take. The films screened at One Take Film Festival have done away with cuts, dissolves, fade in or fade out, and all other types of transitions.
This festival creates a space for a new and stimulating format of filmmaking for almost every genre, and in addition to the film screenings, offers lectures, panel discussions, film workshops, and, exhibitions. Dip your toes into this avant-garde style of filmmaking by making a trip to Croatia’s One Take Film Festival.
From cinematic experiences celebrating the magic of animation, to films exploring the endless courage of those journeying into the mountains — these are the best film festivals in Europe in 2018. Whether you’re a lover of short films, television, or avant grade features — there was at least one festival here that got added to your bucket list.
The combination of stunning locations and compelling collections of films, and film-related activities, make Europe’s Best Film Festivals of 2018 a can’t-miss experience, even if you can only make it to a few. You’ll not only get to view a stellar line-up of films, but will have the chance to sight-see in some of the most beautiful lands in the world. And, you’ll never be far from an engaging conversation, as these festivals are a gathering place for fellow film aficionados.
So, are you going to be part of the European film scene this year? Leave a comment and let us know!