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10 European Film Festivals Movie Fans Shouldn’t Miss

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Below are just a few of the European film festivals on offer. Whether the focus your trips is attending a European film festival or your visit happens to coincide with the event, have fun at the movie fest.

Molodist Film Festival, Ukraine

The festival is held in Kiev in October and it is one of the rare international film festivals that focuses on young directors worldwide. Some of the directors that had their career breakthroughs with this festival include Oscar-nominated English director Steven Daldry (The Reader, The Hours, Billy Elliot) and Bafta-nominated French director Francois Ozon (Swimming Pool, 8 Femmes, Angel.) The festival website promotes a few festivals from around the world. Taking full advantage of social media, the site has about 3,700 Facebook fans already. After all, “molodist” means young in Ukranian, a definition given to you before you enter the website. The festival is in its 4th decade.

Image via img.scoop.it

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The Netherlands Film Festival, The Netherlands

I am not the biggest fan of French cinema, even though there are some gems that I love. I like some German films, but for some reasons many films from these countries, indie or mainstream don’t resonate with me. The Dutch cinema on the other hand is something else. My appreciation for it started with the movie Karakter (Character) from 1997. Yes, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film but I had no idea while I was watching it. This drama has a way of making you feel thrilled, excited and tense even though it is a drama. It features a good story, strong and difficult characters and is not boring even for a second. Now, it might have started with Karakter for me, but this can be said for many other Dutch dramas I’ve seen. The Netherlands Film Festival is held in the last week of September, in Utrecht- a city I absolutely love, just as much as Eindhoven and Amsterdam. The festival shows hundreds of films including features, previous year’s tv films and documentaries. The festival doesn’t neglect famous movie personalities’ films or kid-friendly movies either. I will try to make my my next visit coincide with the festival to get the best of both worlds: Holland and Dutch films.

Utrecht by Damiele Faieta

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Motovun Film Festival, Croatia

Many people think winter is the best time to see movies, but I think movie theaters have a unique appeal in the summer when the heat and humidity can get you down. Granted the weather is milder in Motovun, a beautiful medieval village in Croatia. This small town is also famous for its architecture, so you will have some serious sightseeing to do, including the forest and churches Parish Church of St. Stephen, St. John the Baptist and St. Anthony of Padua.What better way to balance exhausting sightseeing with international movies? The Motovun Film Festival is held in August.

Motovun by Jason Green

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic

If you don’t mind a 2-hour bus trip from Prague, you should check out Karlovy Vary and not just because of its spas or the drink Karlovarská Becherovka. Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is fast approaching its 5th decade. The event takes place in July, and you only need to have 33 pounds to access to the movies and other events (such as concerts) that are associated with the movies. It lasts for 9 days, and if you don’t want a full pass, you can just pay 2 pounds for each film that catches your fancy.

Karlovy Vary via by NoblePiranha

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Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey

April in Istanbul is exciting for movie lovers as the city houses the Istanbul International Film Festival. This year will be the 31st festival organized by IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts.) The festival features a variety of films from famous directors and their well known casts to old classics so that the viewers might enjoy the silver screen experience once again. Of course there are a lot of works by amateur film-makers as well as experimental and artsy efforts by the better known veterans from all over the world. However you can expect a minimum of American movies, and numerous films from Asia and Europe cinema. The key is to try to get your tickets as soon as they are available for sale, which is typically 2 weeks before the movies are shown. All movies feature English subtitles, and more popular movies play at night, some even getting several screenings. You should also keep in mind that while the morning sessions are cheaper, they usually show the amateur movies. You should also check which movies play at which cinemas because not all theaters show all movies.Tickets range from 5 to 15 TL. There is student discount, and you don’t have to be a student in Turkey to benefit from it. Be prepared for long queues consisting of a highly international crowd. Remember that they run out of popular moviestickets quickly.

European film festival

2011’s 30th year poster by  iksv.org

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Stockholm International Film Festival, Sweden

November is a good time to visit Stockholm, as you can catch the Stockholm International Film Festival and visit the Sweden capital. While it is not exactly warm or shiny, it is not unbearably cold either – and this is coming from someone whose favorite place is California. Membership is required to access the films, which can be purchased at 220 SEK. The students can buy it at the lower price of 160 SEK. You can choose to go a little luxurious and buy the 1400 SEK-Bronze Card, which does have several other advantages.Unfortunately membership allows you to enter the theaters and not the movies. You still have to buy them at 70SEK. The festival is sure to be memorable and worth-seeing. Just make sure you have the budget for the movies as well as some Stockholm sightseeing.

Photo by plindberg

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Berlinale Film Festival, Germany

If you are thinking about a trip to Berlin, you definitely shouldn’t miss the famous Berlinale Film Festival. Yes, I do realize it is probably too popular and obvious to mention, but I have a friend in Berlin who lived there for a year when she was in university so the Berlin anecdotes she had were just too juicy to miss. Because it is so well-known, Berlinale is not just famous for airing movies from all over the world, but also for European premiering of many Hollywood movies. It’s inevitable to run into celebrities from all over the world, and you might even be mistaken for a celebrity yourself if you look glamorous enough. The population of Berlin increases by about a million during Berlinale with all journalists, viewers, film crews and others. You can see the cast and directors walking in to the theater after the movie and answering your questions. Also check out a crowd to see if it has gathered around George Clooney, whose shaking friends with everyone (yes, it happened to my friend. I know, lucky her!) However make sure that you buy the tickets as soon as you can as they are made available 2-3 months before the event starts and are sold out pretty quickly. Everyone is excited to catch the movies running for the Golden Bear. Berlin is a must-see town for all movie fans and not just because of the festival, but also for  Potsdam-Babelsberg- an area close to Berlin that houses Babelsberg Studio- a large complex for movie studio where lots of movies you know are shot, including parts of V for Vendetta. This year’s festival takes place in February.

My friend’s picture of the cast of a German festival film

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Raindance Festival, UK

While many festivals are about the movies, Raindance in London puts a lot more emphasis on making movies no matter how few resources you have. Sure, you can enjoy the films even if you are not into films. But it is the festival to attend to if you have interest in the process of film-making as well as seeing the end products. The first of Raindance Festival was held in 1993. It is about appreciating and spreading independent films. It boasts of premiering the movies of some of the world’s most acclaimed directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Matthew Vaughn, Christopher Nolan and Guy Ritchie. Some of these directors even train future filmmakers if you choose to study at Raindance, which also serves as an unconventional film school. Their slogan is that they “don’t teach filmmakers” but that they “make filmmakers”.  I’m impressed by the concept and I would love to check out the films they choose to show at the festival next time I’m in London.

Photo via carrionfilms.co.uk

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The Annual Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, Spain

When it comes to film festivals, Spain might be the country that offers the most fun and variety as the country hosts about 40 different festivals in different categories. Most festivals hate to be branded as the promoter of only artsy and experimental films but very few can boast of giving all kinds of filmmakers a chance. Spain hosts many festivals like this, my favorite being The Annual Horror and Fantasy Film Festival in October, which will celebrate its 23rd year this Fall.  You can check out the festival website for previous winners of award categories such as Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best European Fantasy Short Film among others. There are also audience awards. The festival takes place in the lovely coastal city of San Sebastian.

Image via en.unifrance.org

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Reykjavik International Film Festival, Iceland

Don’t let the cold weather stop you from exploring Iceland, or its Reykjavik Film Festival; it’s becoming more prestigious each year. It entertains a variety of movies by both famous directors and newcomers from many countries. However the festival’s most important award is Discovery of the Year. There is an international jury, but the audience gets to vote for their favorite film too. The annual festival has been taking place in the last week of September since 2004.The main aim of the festival is to draw attention to local talent. The 2011 movie We Need to Talk About Kevin starring Tilda Swinton was one of the festival favorites.

Image via festivalscope.com

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Your Favourite Film Festival in Europe

With so many from which to choose, which is your favourite European film festival?

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