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There’s no denying Cannes dominates the European festival circuit each year. However, there are hundreds of continental film festivals to choose from. We've whittled the list down to ten essential European film fests worth a visit in 2018.

10 European film festivals you don’t want to miss in 2018

For the past seven decades, Cannes has dominated the European festival circuit and established itself as the most prestigious film festival in the world. However, that’s not to say there aren’t hundreds of other European indie film festivals worth a visit. With so many on offer – around 3,000 active worldwide – we’ve decided to take a look at ten of the best continental fests on the circuit today. Film fanatics & filmmakers alike, be sure to note these in the datebook for 2018:

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

June 30 – July 8

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

This Czech Republic-based fest has been going since 1946 and describes itself as being the “most prestigious film festival in Central and Eastern Europe”. Every year, the festival presents on average 200 films from around the world, of which around 70 are shown as world or European premieres. In addition, the festival presents a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to a leading personality of world cinema, the past winners of which include Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Robert de Niro (The Irishman), Michael Douglas (Wall Street), Danny DeVito (Batman Returns), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), and Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project).

Locarno International Film Festival

August 2 – 12

Locarno, Switzerland

Every year throughout its longstanding history, the Locarno Festival occupies the Swiss-Italian town of Locarno to offer thousands of film fans and industry professionals a meeting place to discover the best new movies on offer. The centerpiece of the Locarno Film Festival is its open-air screening area at the vast Piazza Grande. With room for around 8,000 audience members, it’s one of the world’s largest outdoor cinemas. Previous A-list guests include Jean-Luc Godard (A Woman Is a Woman), Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise), Anthony Hopkins (Westworld), Juliette Binoche (Three Colors: Blue), and Edward Norton (The Grand Budapest Hotel).

Molodist Kyiv International Short Film Festival

May 27 – June 3

Kyiv, Ukraine

The key objective of Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival is to promote “young professional cinema,” with the main categories including student, the first short films, and the first feature films. The film festival was established in 1970 as a two-day viewing of students’ short films, and has since grown into an event that has featured work from well-known directors such as Fred Kelemen (Abendland), Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), François Ozon (In the House), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), and Stephen Daldry (The Hours).

Amsterdam Independent Film Festival

September 18 – 20

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The organizers of the Amsterdam Film Festival promise the event is all about film. Instead of focusing on the glitz & glam side of the industry, the event showcases independent artistic visions to an audience that demands a more fulfilling experience than the latest Hollywood fare. The Amsterdam Independent Film Festival accepts all forms and genres including feature, documentary, short, and animation. Alongside its showcase of independent film and the Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive) retrospective is the carefully-curated “Red Lights” selection, featuring the best of modern erotic cinema, which is described as a “tasteful exploration of human sexuality.”

Zurich International Film Festival

September 27 – October 7

Zurich, Switzerland

The aim of the Zurich International Film Festival is to offer audiences insight into the work of the most promising filmmakers from around the globe and to promote the exchange of ideas between established filmmakers, professionals in the film business, creative talent, and the public. The festival continues to grow rapidly and in 2017 alone, approximately 98,000 visitors attended the festival’s screenings. In addition, filmmakers compete for the coveted Golden Eye – the festival’s main award – in each of the competition sections comprising features & documentaries.

Mind the Indie Film Festival

June 1 – 3

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Mind the Indie Film Festival aims to showcase the best in indie filmmaking not once, but twice a year. Director Kirill Proskura announced, “Our mission is to help talented film artists who create meaningful films that are worth seeing and sharing, but lack the backing of studios, expensive marketing campaigns, or famous personas.” Submissions are accepted in a wide range of categories including feature, short, documentary, animation, and student film.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

June 21 – July 2

Edinburgh, Scotland

Established in 1947, the annual Edinburgh International Film Festival is one of the longest-running film festivals in Europe. Considered to be one of the coolest, most charming, and relaxed European film festivals on the calendar, the programming tends to favor smart American independents, with previous premieres including Frances Ha & Little Miss Sunshine. Meanwhile, some of the festival’s patrons include Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting), Karen Gillan (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), and the genius cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Nocturnal Animals).

San Sebastián International Film Festival

September 22 – 30

Basque Country, Spain

Founded in 1953, the names associated with the San Sebastián International Film Festival have bestowed it with a certain dose of glamour. Everyone from Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho) to Steven Spielberg (Ready Player One) have left an indelible stamp on the festival’s memory, with its main role being “to serve as a showcase for each year’s most disquieting and innovative films.”

Reykjavík International Film Festival

September 27 – October 7

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík International Film Festival is relatively new, having started in 2004. However, the fest has stood out from the crowd by only offering its big prize – the Golden Puffin – to directors bringing their first or second movie. This has made the Icelandic event a target for hot new talent the world over. Festival director Hrönn Marinósdóttir declared, “Our aim is to present the new generation of directors.”

BFI London Film Festival

October 4 – 15

London, UK

Launched in 1953 as England’s answer to Edinburgh, Cannes, and the rest, the BFI London Film Festival was intended to be a “festival of festivals”, showcasing the best of the best for Londoners and tourists alike. Held in cooperation with the British Film Institute, the event screens more than 300 films, documentaries, and shorts each year, submitted from filmmakers from approximately 50 countries.

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