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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 nights

Sunrise over Upper Zagreb.

One of the highlights of this nocturnal film festival for me was the eerie moonlight tour of the upper old town of Zagreb. We were led by actors in costume through sinuous old cobbled streets, each of us holding dangling lit lanterns. The further we went into the past the further fiction and make-believe blurred reality and a sensation filled me that we had walked onto the set of one of the fantasy films featured at the festival. But this set was the best because this one was real!

1) The night expedition led us through the crossing of Mesnicka and Ilica Street where a creepy black hooded man greeted us. And while our guide began a dog howled at the moon and off we went on our terrifying titillating tour.

2) We then met the classic (and dead) great Croat novelist Andrija Kacic Miosic. She took us on the tour through the streets that she knew best and which inspired the characters and stories featured in her novels.

3) On our tour, we met an eclectic mix of characters- personalities from Andrija’s novels, tortured souls of ghoulish ghosts, spirits of dead legends brought to life by costumed actors, wispy wenches, wiry witches, armed olden time sentries, the apparitions of haunted doomed lovers of a tormented bygone past, a captain, a countess, and even a devil on a horse!

4) We were led to Kamenita Vrata, which was the main gate to the old city that the great fire of 1731 almost completely destroyed. A tiny chapel exists beneath the gate with a painting of the Virgin Mary, which is consecrated behind a glass wall. The faithful gather day and night lighting candles and kneeling in outside pews in prayer to the Mary in effigy. Near to the gate is an old chemist shop, founded by a great grandchild of Dante Alighieri.

5) We continued through old meandering streets for hours until we all felt we would die ourselves if we walked another step. And then the tour ended at Markov Square where a theater group reenacted the peasant uprising of 1573 in front of the grand upper town cathedral.

6) The tour ended and we came back to life again, thrust back to present and modern day reality, in front of lively restaurants and bars to the celebratory sounds of a cheerful guitar, song and revelry. We were each given small gifts in the form of a Licitar Heart (a symbol of Zagreb) and also fried traditional doughnuts and Travarica (a tasty and strong Croatian Schnapps).

What an excellent eccentric evening! I shall not soon forget this very cinematic haunted midsummer night stroll through old Zagreb during the fanciful Fun-tastic Fantastic Zagreb Film Festival.


Written by Vanessa McMahon on July 10, 2011.


photos of haunted upper Zagreb tour by Vanessa McMahon (click on photo for details)

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