If the Olympics are to represent one end of the spectrum that is present-day skateboard culture, Vladimir Film Festival is on the opposing end of it. Located on the Adriatic Sea in Fazana, Croatia, this quaint fishing village becomes host to some of skateboarding’s best artists, films and exhibitions for four days.
Over the course of the festival, people flood in from Brazil, the UK, USA, France, Serbia, Slovenia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Poland and Russia. The already friendly vibe of the village becomes even more-so as the skateboard tourists mix and mingle with the local fishermen and pier workers. In the mornings, everyone slowly regroups while sipping espresso and eating pastries, slowly coming to life after copious amounts of Rakija and partying at Kasarna until 5 or 6 the night before.
The festival is organized in such a way that you have all the daylight and beautiful weather to work off your hang over, go for a dip in the sea, feast on local seafood or explore the incredible, culturally rich Istrian region. By night, the festival organizers pull out all the stops for an assortment of open-air cinemas with locations that vary from one evening to the next. From Fazana’s Piazza Grande, into the forest of the national park on Brijuni Island, and most impressively, in the courtyard of a castle in neighbouring Pula, the venues hold just as much importance during the festival as the exhibitions do.
On opening night, Vladimir Film Fest kicked off the screenings with white wine, snacks and an outdoor skate market at a 1970s former-Yugoslavian hotel with original interior. Like the locations, VFF curated the program tightly with themes of travel, feminism, culture and of course, the classic skate video format. Top highlights included:
Ostalghia by Guillaume Perimony in Belarus
Teddie by George Toland(UK)
Yalla Yalla by Absurd Skateboards in Palestine
Hawaiian Peel by Keanu Robson(UK)
Dumb Ape Tour by Dumb Skateboards(Italy)
An animated tribute to Photosynthesis by Sarcusnevarc
Expedition to Iran by Original Copy(Berlin)
Amazing Race by Jucie Huhtala(Finland)
Absurd at the Azov Sea by Absurd Skateboards(Russia)
Neverwhere by Grey Area(Poland)
And while all of these projects had their own special vibe, everyone could agree that ‘The Skatrix’ was the most impressive exhibition. Rick Charnoski and Buddy Nicholas created a 360 degree, fully immersive audio-visual presentation of an hour-long session in a backyard pool. The room, constructed of 6x6 metre walls made from projection screens, played an uncut session as you would watch it normally – recorded from the bottom of a pool in such a way that you felt as if you were truly sitting right there. It would have been great on it’s own, but the festival organizers had to do it big by showing off this never-been-done-before skate exhibition in the courtyard of a local castle.
As if four days of exhibitions in wild locations weren’t enough, the VFF organizers made sure we got our fix of adventure too. After the festival officially ended and the crowd thinned out a little, they took us on an excursion to a sea-side fortress for more exploring and skateboarding. Yes, the 1850’s fortress built by the Austro-Hungarian empire is absolutely skatable with banks, a stair grind and even a transition wall.
For the Vladimir Film Festival, they’ve just passed the 8-year mark and we can honestly say we’ll make every effort to be there for the years to come. If you’ve read the above thinking this sounds like some highbrow, pretentious event, then you’re sorely mistaken. Vladimir Film Festival takes an open-arms approach to whoever is interested in joining to appreciate the art of skateboarding. No egos, no bullshit and no corporate sponsorship. Location is everything and the mash up of culture, skateboarding, media and personalities from abroad is like nothing else that’s happening in skateboarding right now, and that my friends is a breath of fresh air.
Much respect to all of the organizers -Butko, Iris, Marina, Marta, Nikola, Oleg, Tibor and Zubak- and all of the exhibitionists. See everyone at Porta Cafe next year.
For more info, check out vladimirfilmfestival.com