Festival Circuit

Full moon and farewells

8.7.2017 – 222 Days Left until the release of Iron Sky The Coming Race!

I faded out of the sleep around 9am, to greet the cloudy day with a nasty, grinding hangover on the right hand side of my brains. Counting back how many different drinks I had mixed yesterday, I knew I was the only one to blame. I spent much of the day to salvage the situation, and managed to get out of the bed only around 5pm.

I took my skateboard and kicked down the few streets around Zagreb. The city is just perfect for skating – communism brought if nothing else, at least wide streets to Eastern Europe, and Zagreb – being a flat big city – is nothing short of a dreamland for a casual city cruiser.

I found myself wandering deeper towards the old city. The afternoon sun was hot but not uncomfortable, there were only very few people on the streets and I was feeling great. I found a small pizza joint and wandered and spent good one hour slowly eating a pizza and reading Eric Idle’s stories – this time, he was remembering the funeral of George Harrison, and I shed few tears for the lost legend right there in a small pizzeria somewhere in Croatia.

By the time I was back out, the sun had already started to drop, and I knew I had to hurry back to the hotel to make it to the bus for the evening’s event. The whole EGF posse was packed on the bus and we started our ascend to the mountains – destination: a 900 year old castle overlooking Zagreb.


As the roads started to narrow, I realised we’re already quite high, and the winding road turned from asphalt to old cobblestones, and below us, just few feet from the edge of the bus was a fall that would’ve killed us all. For a while it was fun, but as the bus driver kept kicking the pedal and speeding up the old castle road, I started to feel bad. At one point, there was even a staff member telling us to not go further, but the driver paid no heed and upwards we went.

These, I’m sure, are the stories you hear every now and then – a tourist bus with 25 people in crashed into a gorge, killing everyone. I’ve always liked to make the headlines, but not that way. So I was relieved when finally we stumbled out of the bus, all slightly shaken, but safely in the front yard of this big old castle.


Medvedgard Fortress was built after the Mongols invaded Croatia back in 1200’s, and was abandoned only after 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, which did severe damage everywhere around – most notably, Vienna. Having stood there for nearly a thousand years, and without any permanent residence for the last 500, it’s of course crumbling (and about to be renovated next year), but offers a panoramic view over Zagreb from high above that’s worth the trip.


We were greeted by a full moon staring brightly at the sea of lights below that was Zagreb, and walking by the wall in the soft, darkening July night would’ve been romantic – had I had my wife with me. Now, it felt just a missed opportunity.

IMG_8465The Fantastic Zagreb people offered a magnificent outdoor screening of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which I decided to take a peek at and then head back to chat with the EGF people, but man that film has stood time so well, with unique atmosphere and tremendous visuals – all practical, of course, since it’s from the year 1982. The storytelling is so strong it’s impossible to not to watch it to the end. That’s how you know a good film – even if you’ve seen it a thousand times, you just can’t walk away halfway through.

IMG_8468The rest of the night we spent chatting quite deeply with the EGF people under the full moon, sitting on the grass and contemplating life, film, music and love. A perfect ending for a tremendous festival, and we all felt sad knowing we’d have to part our ways in the morning.

The more I travel the festivals, the more friends I have across the world. Back in Helsinki, I maybe have two people I really get to call to go for a beer, but thanks to this festival circuit life, there’s less and less cities around the world where I don’t know at least one person I’ve had a great evening with and can call to show me around the town. It’s the one thing I never expected from becoming a filmmaker – the amount of friends you make at festivals. Nobody told about that, everyone’s always raving about submitting to the festivals, or competing at the right ones, but … who cares? Nobody knows any of the films they’re about to see at the festivals, they don’t remember who won what and when, but the people, the connections and the friendships you make are tremendously important.

Well, now I’m rambling. I made it safely back to Finland yesterday, and since nothing ever happens here, I’ll probably write the next time when I head back to Croatia – that’s in 2 days 🙂 Stay safe, friends, and listen to Mayhem.

The European Genre Forum team. Left: Sten-Kristian Saluveer, Aaron Hillis, Stjepan Hundic, Ant Timpson, Li’l Ol Me, Alexander O. Philippe, Chris Oosterom, Maja Zigic, and the last two on the right are Annick Mahnert and Josh Sobel, in all black!

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