The Best Places for Film Lovers This Fall

Oct 25, 2019

PSA for movie lovers: Even if you track the most famous film festivals, there's a whole world of screen time out there that you may be missing. In fact, this season packs so many lesser-known (but no less awesome) cinephile events, we're helping you navigate them with a top 10 list. 

Frights and Fizz Nights; Manchester, England

Horror aficionados know that Halloween isn't just for kids, and Manchester's here to underscore the point: Frights and Fizz Nights, a horror flick pop-up, is happening over the course of four nights (Oct. 28-31) in a secret, vaulted "bunker"—location to be revealed right before the event. Naturally, the lineup includes the original Halloween, among others. In place of trick-or-treat candy, you'll find themed cocktails, bottomless prosecco and popcorn. And when you need a break from freaking out underground, chill in a room at the Principal Manchester, which gets bonus points for appearing in a pivotal scene in Hell is a City, one of many movies shot across Manchester

Zagreb Film Festival; Croatia 

Another one of those cities you'll recognize even if you've never been there—it's served as a backdrop for everything from Fiddler on the Roof to From Russia with Love—Croatia's capital is staking a different kind of claim to the international film scene with the Zagreb Film Festival (Nov. 7-17). Turning some of the city's most iconic cultural spots into theaters—the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Lauba People and Art House and the Croatian Music Institute—ZFF is screening the action-packed Italian Oscar nominee The Traitor, the British romantic drama Only You, and a world's worth of movies in between. While you're in town, catch a flick at the locally beloved Kaptol Boutique Cinema, then have a nightcap at the theater's funky Hollywood-themed bar. And for a hotel stay with star power, make like Liz Taylor, Orlando Bloom and Giuseppe De Santis and check into the Esplanade Zagreb, Europe’s 2019 Historic Hotel of the Year—and a location for a The Great Escape II: The Untold Story.

DOK Leipzig; Germany

Founded in 1955, DOK Leipzig (Oct. 28-Nov. 3)is one of the world’s oldest documentary film fests. This year's edition kicks off with the world premiere of The Forum, a behind-the-scenes profile of the always buzz-generating World Economic Forum. Also on the lineup: Never Whistle Alone, a timely inquiry into the motivations of seven whistleblowers, and an “Animation Film Night” with lectures by globally renowned filmmakers. And if you arrive via the Leipzig/Halle airport, note that it was a filming location for Captain America: Civil War. Getting here by train? The Leipzig Hauptbahnhof has appeared in everything from Obsession to Mr. Nobody. Stay at the festival's partner Hotel Michaelis—a gorgeously restored 19th-century building that's close to almost anything you'd want to do in Leipzig. 

Australia Independent Film Festival; Brisbane

A sought-after film location, Brisbane has stood in for every place from Asgard (Thor: Ragnarok) to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp (Unbroken). But the city's about to star as itself, welcoming indie movies and the cinephiles who love them to the  Australia Independent Film Festival (Nov 1–3). The selections run the gamut and globe, with explorations of Buddhist woodcarvers in Japan, First Nations elders in Saskatchewan, street divas in Havana—and much, much more. Stay at the festival's partner hotel, Royal on the Park, and you'll also find yourself right next door to the city's botanic gardens, where spring will be in full bloom—this being the Southern Hemisphere, or course.

Africa International Film Festival; Lagos, Nigeria

"The Nollywood industry today is the biggest film industry in Africa and one of the leading industries in the world with respect to the number of films produced per year," according to the Guardian. Little wonder that Nollywood's HQ—Lagos—plays host to the Africa International Film Festival (Nov. 10-16). Among the 150 chosen African-themed films, there's everything from a female-centric war doc (For Sama, which opens the festival) to a story of forgiveness between criminals and victims (The Ghost and the House of Truth, which closes things out). In between, there will be classes in cinematography, screenwriting and acting—plus plenty of star sightings. But for the best shot of spotting Nollywood A-listers, stay on their home turf—Victoria Island in Lagos Lagoon—at the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel.

Napa Valley Film Festival; Napa, CA

Cinephiles, oenophiles and foodophiles, go live your best life at the Napa Valley Film Festival, a celebration of film, wine and epic eats (Nov. 13-17). As promising as the 75 chosen films are—from Sci-Fi-thriller I Am Human to the sports-themed The Nomads—the food and wine events are as much of a draw. Between screenings, for example, the festival will host sommelier-guided “Wine Intermissions,” with bottles from more than 100 local wineries. We're also planning to arrive hungry to Variety's Film to Table event, which serves up film-inspired small plates along with celebrity dish (the latter thanks to an expert panel on hand to discuss food and film). If you need a break from the movies and wine (as if!)—or just a place to rest your head (okay, probably)—chill out amidst the glass fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows of Andaz Napa, the festival's partner hotel.

MedFilm; Rome 

Rome’s oldest film festival, MedFilm showcases the best of Mediterranean cinema (Nov. 8-21). But when in Rome, don't miss another essential element of local movie history: the Mussolini-founded Cinecittà. Dubbed “Hollywood on the Tiber,” the studios eventually cut ties with their fascist roots and attracted productions that ranged from Ben-Hur to Cleopatra to Roman Holiday (to say nothing of the Fellini classics shot here, not least, La Dolce Vita). If you want to get a sense of what's been filmed beyond the studio walls,  check out the likes of an Angels and Demons Tour—or a tour of James Bond: Spectre locations. Then make like Taylor and Burton and stay at the St. Regis Rome.

Hawaii International Film Festival; Oahu

Bringing movie lovers to Hawaii since 1981, Hawaii International Film Festival (Nov. 6-24) is the place to go for the best flicks out of Asia and the Pacific. This November, the festival opens with WWII comedy-drama Jojo Rabbit by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi and closes with the anime romantic fantasy Weathering With You by Japanese director Makoto Shinkai. One can't-miss in between: the Hawaiian documentary short 8:08 - How We Respond, which tackles the effect of false information circa 2019. Stay at the festival’s partner Halekulani, AKA Hawaii’s best hotel, to experience your movies with a side of luxury. And while you're in town, head to Kualoa Ranch and step inside Godzilla’s footprint.

Secret Cinema; Shanghai

For more than a decade, the UK-based Secret Cinema has been thrilling movie buffs with immersive experiences and erasing the borders between performers and audiences. And over the next two months, the company is taking its show on the road—to Shanghai, where—as of Nov. 23—you can attend and star in a performance of Casino Royale. If you accept the mission, you’ll have exclusive access to an online Secret Service employee portal, receive your own mission briefing and alias, and live out your secret spy fantasies (in costume, of course). We know facing off with nefarious criminal organizations can takes a toll, so unwind over martinis—shaken, not stirred, of course—at the iconic Peace Hotel’s Jazz Bar. In fact, for movie buffs, the hotel is a great place to stay: No less than Empire of the Sun was (in part) filmed here. 

Around the World in 14 Films, Berlin

A cinematic RTW trip, this annual event brings the best of the international film festival circuit to Berlin (Nov. 21-30). Though the 2019 lineup won't be released until November, you can safely assume there will be stellar work from Latin America, Africa, the Near, Middle and Far East, and many points beyond. The coolest bonus? A famous German filmmaker, actor or journalist will introduce each film and—in many cases—its director or star, then moderate a post-screening discussion. (A short list of past guests: Olivier Assayas, Vincent Lindon, Andrey Zvyagintsev and Geraldine Chaplin.) Follow in the footsteps of Geraldine's dad (as well as Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks and countless other A-Listers) and stay at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski, a remake of the iconic original of the same name.

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