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Fantastic Zagreb

Zero release of the first fiction film festival across the region will be held from 02. to 09.07. 2011 as a major announcement of the first edition in 2012. Fantastic Zagreb is festival that will bring together film fiction and related genres - science fiction, horror, thriller, suspens, animation, experimental film, the curious drama, etc. The projections are held at two open air locations - the plateau near the Church St.Catherine (Gradec) and the plateau above the garage in Tuskanac and Europa cinemas . Films will be shown thru 6 programs, and in this year's zero-release,we offer you really wide range of titles from Japan and Korea to France, UK, Spain and former Yugoslavia.

Our desire is to get the city of Zagreb not only a great genre film festival, but also the first open air film festival and a series of attractive screenings and events so the city would become more alive in the spirit of the festival, and vice versa. In this way we enrich the cultural and the summer tourist offer of Zagreb, with emphasis on the Upper Town of Zagreb's old legends like Grička vjestica (witch), Bloody Bridge, etc!  


Pandora and her Zagreb!

Pandora by J. W. Waterhouse 

FANTASTIC ZAGREB FILM FESTIVAL was my first trip to Croatia’s comely capital. When I arrived, I had the fright of my life at 6:00am my first morning. My room was broken into by a creepy tall man and who knows what would have happened if I had not been awake at that early hour (jetlag!), if I had not been facing the door as he began opening it. Well, to make a long story short, nothing better than a hair-raising real life experience to start off an equally bloodcurdling freaky film festival. After all, this festival is a celebration for the fantastic so who knows, maybe the break-in was all a staged event just to get me in the mood for a new experience and a far-fetched fright.

But first impressions can most times deceive and my uneasy first day turned into a total freak incident as only a few days later I found myself walking the streets of old Zagreb alone at the midnight hour and feeling quite safe and at home. I travel to a different country almost every week and seldom am I as in awe as I am over Zagreb. The city is so clean and well kept it puts many other Western European cities to shame and the locals are some of the most open and warmest Europeans I have met. I felt quite accustomed by the second day and whenever I found myself lost through sinuous cobble streets of old upper Zagreb, there was always a smart local speaking perfect English to help me find my way.

While the city is a stunning mélange of rainbow colors during the day I spent most of my Zagreb sightseeing hours at night, as this was a nocturnal film festival. Thus, most of my memories are of dark emerald trees swaying under a midsummer full moon whilst viewing gory gratuitous fanciful fiction features at outdoor Tuskanac Cinema, or tiptoeing behind ghosts and actor tour guides on the haunted upper Zagreb night tour, lit lantern in my trembling hand and trepidation in heart. But a few days during my week stay in Zagreb I managed to crawl out of my dark room and brave the bright of day.

The city gleams under the scintillating summer sun radiating a bouquet of colors like ruby red rooftops mixed with jade swaying verdigris, honey amber royal buildings and an impressive sea grey art museum (Mimara), a purple and white museum in old town with the best name of a museum ever- The Museum of Broken Relationships-and, well, I could be here forever listing the endless array of heaped hues that make up pleasant pretty Zagreb. Few capital cities can boast so much pizazz. Streets lined with a kaleidoscope of pastel painted shops, cafes and restaurants and the inhabitants themselves seem to consist of a vibrant varying multi-cultural synthesis.

Well, apart from the fantastic film festival, Fantastic Zagreb, when I thought about what I could say about my experience of this Eastern European jewel an image rather than words came to mind, that of Pandora and her box. For me, Zagreb could be likened to a young Pandora holding her closed and mystery filled vessel, aware of her striking beauty and all the power she possesses and yet apprehensive of it. She secretly knows her prowess and therefore guards it like a watchful sentry, revealing just enough of her loveliness but holding back humbly, quietly, sitting in modesty along the Adriatic, governess of the unspoiled gem of Europe. She winks at those who know her and gives a sagacious Mona Lisa smile, a gleam in her eye that while she is privy to an ancient wisdom, she also accepts the present and ever-shifting present with a welcome sweet and genuine naïvitee. She, Zagreb, is the perfect paradox of history and modernity, battle scars and innocence, steeped in myth and mystery with poised innovate pen in hand. While the other great cities of Europe sit high on their throne, loud and puffed up with pomp, Zagreb sits at their feet, a shiny new princess groomed and educated, glistening with glowing eyes possessing the wisdom of an antique past and all the open horizons of an unseen hopeful future. Zagreb, ah, FANTASTIC ZAGREB!


written by Vanessa McMahon, July 20, 2011


photos of the city and festival by Vanessa McMahon




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