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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Fantastic Zagreb! A fun and freaky new festival!

Fantastic Zagreb!

Well, for a 'year zero' of an unknown festival this looks to be a fantastic success with sold-out outdoor theaters, perfect summer weather, happy hospitable locals and so much to see in zesty Zagreb, jewel of the Balkans. This new fantasy fest all started with a kick off screening of the supernatural thriller TWO EYES STARING (2010) by Dutch director Elbert van Strien, followed by an opening party oozing with carousers dressed as skeletons, grim reapers, witches and scary cinephile freaks. Indeed this forested historical city possesses an energy about it that could be magic or haunted, or both. This was the start of eight days of restless midsummer night dreams.

Well, they have Christmas in July so why not Halloween in July too? At Fantastic Zagreb everyone becomes a creature of the night, living like vampires through the night, sleeping all day. The first screenings of the day don't start until 21:30 and they continue till around 1:30 - 2:00 am. Festival founder Mia Pecina explained to me that during the other more established Zagreb film festivals the theaters are never filled during the day screenings as people have to work and few can see films in the daytime hours. So, what a better idea than to screen these films in an outdoor cinema at night surrounded by luscious green trees under the starry night sky where people can drink, smoke (or not smoke) and be in the company of friends watching fantasy festival films? This is no ordinary festival, people, this one caters to the fun-tastic and fantastic. Not only was the lineup of films featuring everything from the top psychological thrillers, slasher films, sci-fi, magical realism, supernatural thrillers, horror films, etcetera of the last year, but all of them were screened on 35 mm, an impressive feat in this digital day and age.

Then after the screenings, the parties began. Inside antique old town Zagreb buildings are chic bars and nightclubs playing hip music till the wee hours. When most bars and clubs in the rest of Europe are closing, Zagreb’s are just getting started. People dance in smoke-filled rooms (it's still legal to smoke in bars here, which makes for my only complaint), drinking the local brews or impressively palatable local fine wines (Croatians have been making wine as long as the a Romans btw and some argue even longer), we were privy to endless bottles of one of the festival sponsors 'Kutjevo' wines, dancing to club hits from every era...

During the day (okay, some days we managed to crawl out of bed before sunset) we toured the charming city, went hiking and dining in the thick of the verdant surrounding mountains, marveled through varied unique museums, explored the meandering maze-like cobble streets of old Zagreb and wined and dined like ghouls and goblins, headless kings and queens. It is a delightfully new kind of festival but one not for the weak stomached... Get ready for some gross gratuitous gory international thrillers, the most fantastically daring freaking movies I've seen all year.

Check out the impressive fantasy schedule of films here for an idea just how freakish Fantastic Zagreb is:

For movie reviews, interviews, news and photos explore our page for 'Fantastic Zagreb' and become a fan on Facebook FZ page....


Article written by, Vanessa McMahon July 08, 2011

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