7 German film festivals to visit this year

7 German film festivals to visit this year

The countdown leader is up, the Kopfkino begins and you’ve seen this one before. It’s time to head out into the crowd, maybe even to the edge of the red carpet, and enjoy some freshly-baked flicks in the company of fellow cinephiles at one of these film festivals in Germany.

Film festivals in Germany

According to the Committee of Film Festivals in Germany (AG Filmfestival) there are around 400 film festivals in Germany alone. Wondering where to get started? From the bright lights of the Berlinale to the dot-connecting documentaries at DOK Film Festival Leipzig, here are seven German film festivals well worth a visit:

Berlinale: Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin International Film Festival, more commonly known as the Berlinale, is Germany’s largest film festival, and probably - unless you’re a real film fanatic - the only German film festival you already know.

The festival has been running for over 70 years, and every February it brings together glitzy Hollywood stars and cult classic names from European cinema, making it - along with Cannes and Venice - one of the top three major international film festivals. Stars that have been honoured with its Golden Bear Award for lifetime achievement include Dustin Hoffman, Sophia Loren, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg.

Although attending a screening at the Berlinale is affordable - tickets cost under 20 euros - it can be a scramble to get your hands on them. Tickets go on sale on a rolling basis throughout the festival, becoming available three days before a screening. You can buy them online or head down to the box office, with the central office located at Potsdamer Platz.

Munich International Film Festival

A newbie on the film fest scene in comparison to the Berlinale, the Munich International Film Festival has been running since 1983. While it is less well known on the world stage, after the Berlinale this is Germany’s most important film festival.

Held in the summer heat during the last weeks of June and early July, the festival in Munich screens around 150 films each year, both high-budget flicks and productions made with next to nothing. Tickets for this fest are also pretty affordable, costing between 8 and 10 euros per person. There are also some screenings with free admission.

Filmfest Dresden

Filmfest Dresden is a short film festival taking place each spring and is a more modest affair than the Berlinale or Munich IFF. That said, this Dresden fest is no small feat, considering thousands of films for screening, selecting just under 100 and offering 72.000 euros to the winner of its most prestigious award.

With separate, international, national and German categories, the festival’s latest editions have focused on different themes, including utopia and dystopia, artificial intelligence, and identity and gender issues. Standard tickets cost 8,50 euros for adults and 4 euros for children under the age of 18.

DOK Film Festival Leipzig

For the aspiring Curtises, Herzogs and Livingstons among us, DOK Film Festival Leipzig is the place to head. Happening every autumn since 1955, the festival was initially started as an East German counterpart to the International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg and screens documentaries and animated films. 

In 2023 the festival welcomed no fewer than 45.500 guests for a week of packed cinemas and lively discussions. For locals and documentary boffins wanting to get more involved, the festival also selects a winner for its Golden Dove Award using a jury of local film enthusiasts. If you fit the bill, you can send them an email! Sounds like too much responsibility? Tickets for a screening at the festival cost between 8 and 10 euros.

Internationales Frauen Film Fest

Under the slogan, “Camera, Lights, Emancipation”, the Internationales Frauen Film Fest points the camera at patriarchy, whether or not it's ready for its close-up.

This is Germany’s largest, longest-running international women’s film festival, screening around 130 films of feminist cinema each year since 2006, when the festival was born from two other women’s film fests, femme totale and feminale. These days, the annual event alternates between Cologne and Dortmund as its host city.

This festival has something for everyone; previous editions have included a music video programme, visitor workshops on making and sharing home videos, and a film-themed tour of Dortmund.

Fantasy Filmfest Germany

Wherever you live in Germany and however much you’re dying for some escapism, worry not - you’re never far from a Fantasy Film Fest. Touring the country across seven of the largest cities, Fantasy Filmfest “pair[s] intense horror films with breathtaking thrillers, obscure science-fiction tales and heartfelt dramas”. 

The festival doesn’t just have multiple locations, but multiple editions. The main event, held every September, is complemented by Fantasy Filmfest - White Nights in January and February and Fantasy Filmfest - Nights in July. Looking to swap the ills of our world for the ills of another for around 10 euros per person? Summer, autumn or winter, head to Fantasy Film Fest.

Filmfestival Turkey Germany

Almanya: Welcome to Germany, Love, Deutschmarks and Death and the Oscar-nominated The Teachers’ Lounge: Turkish-Germans have produced some of the country’s funniest and most thought-provoking films of the past 20 years.

Every year, the Filmfestival Turkey Germany “gives a unique insight into the current filmmaking in Germany and Turkey” and creates a “cultural dialogue” between the two cinemas. Taking place in Nuremberg, the festival’s program is punctuated with musical performances and talks, including discussions on why Turkish TV programmes have seen worldwide success, and the future of cinema.

Time to hit the Kino

Germany is home to some of the greatest film festivals in the world. Leave Netflix behind and head out to the pictures for some extra sparkle.

Thumb image credit: magicinfoto /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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