Every year, cinephiles journey in their droves to film festivals across the globe. Although Hollywood is eternally popular as a producer of blockbusters, Europe may well be the true home of the art form. Attending a film festival gives you the chance to experience movies in their best possible iteration – on the big screen, surrounded by equally enthusiastic people. Whether you’re an expert on underground horror, a black comedy buff or a sucker for a political thriller, there’s an amazing film festival in Europe just for you.
France: Cannes Film Festival
Everyone with a passion for cinema has heard of Cannes on the Cote d’Azur. The glamorous red carpet affair is the most prestigious film festival on the planet, let alone Europe, and is held annually in May at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. The invite-only event has attracted throngs of stars to the gorgeous French Riviera every year since it first started in 1946, so movie buffs naturally gather to try to spot their idols too. Cannes has long been indispensable for studios and filmmakers because it is the place where new movies are picked up for international distribution. The festival highlight is its prestigious competition for the coveted Palme d’Or, a prize which can help make a film, director or actor’s fortune.
Rotterdam: International Film Festival
Unlike other events, International Film Festival Rotterdam has taken place in cinemas across the city annually since it was first conceived in the 1970s. Over the years, it’s gone on to become one of the most important events in the Dutch film scene, with a focus on diversity and promoting the work of upcoming and independent moviemakers across the globe. This is the festival for serious, highbrow film fans. Screenings are shown without ‘popcorn breaks’, trailers or other commercials.
Germany: Berlin International Film Festival
The Berlinale film festival might be the coolest on the planet, but that should come as little surprise… isn’t that always the case with Berlin? The festival shows about 400 films per year; mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format. It really is a celebration of film as a medium, and of all the European film fests, the Berlin iteration isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. There really are no holds barred. Previous events have been deemed risky and controversial – but never ever boring. This mammoth movie spectacle also prides itself on restorations of film classics as well as rediscovered gems. If you want a new perspective, this could well be the film festival for you.
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Main image by Franck Michel