A story about a true independent skate film festival
Article by Tibor Rep
Photos by Marina Jakulic, Ivana Tomic, Kristijan Smok, Tomaz Santl, Peter Fettich
Nikola Racan a young Croatian skateboarder, filmmaker and instigator of a local film festival couldn’t have thought even in his wildest dreams that his small-scale brainchild will in only six years grown into probably one of the best European independent skate movie festivals. Probably one of the hottest independent skate film festivals in the world has been enticing more and more skateboarding, photography, documentaries, fashion, philosophy lovers to the southern part of the Istria, largest peninsula in Croatia. The August Senoa Skateboard Club from Fazana doesn’t provide only good malvasia and anchovies. “It’s an independent film manifestation, that’s why we are trying to stay away from big commercial sponsors that could interfere in the content and the course of the festival. Since in Croatia the cultural projects are starving financially, our project doesn’t bring political points to the Fazana commune that doesn’t have enough knowledge, experience and interest to recognize good content, our program is founded the way it is. It doesn’t have founding,” ironically adds Racan. It sounds pretentious but the setting of the event in Fazana, a small fishing town, it adds a mythical dimension to the event. Nikola masterminded an unforgettable atomic premier in the Pula’s gallery Cvajner of his first full length skate movie Solstice, featuring more than 60 skateboarders from the ex-Yugoslavia region, Bordeaux, Paris and London. During the projection the gallery Cvajner, a legendary cultural space in Pula, was bursting at the seams.
This year’s program between the 22nd and 25th of September was exceptional, culminating the last day with the masterpiece of the New York’s skate video illusionist Colin Read. This is what he had to say before the screening: “For every premiere so far I’ve been dreaming of something like this and trying. For the first one in New York I tried to do it in the Central Park and it didn’t work. In Amsterdam we tried to do it in Safari preserve and it didn’t work. But here finally we got to do it on Brijuni Island which is pretty much the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to in my life so thank you for being here. Enjoy Spirit Quest.” The festival organizers claim that the Brijuni Islands are part of mainland Fazana mostly because of the outdoor theatre where Marshal Tito (president of ex Yugoslavia), a real filmophile, had regular private screenings.
The sixth edition of the festival, featuring five locations, hosted an international photo exhibition of four skate photographers and projections of two documentaries in the movie theatre Valli. “At one point we decided to move part of the program to Pula. Valli opened its doors to us and we’ve grown together. We do not want any kind of restrictions, the least of all creative ones. We select the movies and put on art shows in the theater’s lobby,” points out Racan.
The Vladimir Skate Film Festival has a strong support in Pula and non in Fazana’s commune. “Probably because of the great infrastructure in Pula. In Fazana we’re trying to set up something. We would welcome the support and help of the local institutions, who are always turning a blind eye. The August Senoa Skateboard Club cannot even get its own space,” says ironically Racan.
They’ve paved their way to success with raw enthusiasm. That’s probably what’s lacking in our society. We need pure enthusiasm so that energy can flow between people, so that they can clap and yell wildly at a premiere. Not forced by sponsors or what looks cool or not, but to really open up to skateboarding. This collective spurred by its headstrong course has shown that love for music, art, comic strips or something else always finds a way. They’ve shown that they’re not crazy. Organizing such an event in a region without skate industry is a great feat.
All the festival activities flow one into the other. Oleg Morovic takes care of the visual aspect, Marko Zubak communicates with the international skateboard scene, Elvis Butkovic does the technical part, Iris Mosnja works as the PR and media contact, Marta Baradic deals with the foreign media, Marina Jakulic leads the social media ensemble and Tibor Marko Jakulic could be labeled as the executive coordinator of the festival, since supervises almost everything. At this festival everybody, the organizers, filmmakers, photographers and the visitors, breathe as one – partly because everything is free of charge, except the dirt cheap boat ride.
A few days after the event I’ve phoned Nikola Racan and asked if the crew is enjoying the deserved rest, he surprised me: “I’m on my way to Italy – Colin Read has a flight to catch. In the morning Marina drove part of the guests to the Pula’s airport, Zubak is skating with the remaining guests, Marta and Iris are preparing material for a state’s competition and Oleg is editing photos. I’m dog-tired, but happy. This festival means a lot to us. Since last year we’ve extended it to four days and we’ve double the number of guests. It’s been fun skating and meeting everyone. It will be hard to forget the projection on the Brijuni Islands, the photo exhibition and Sergej Vutuc’s performance. All the exhibitions, films, Dom Henry’s freestyle and the mini ramp sessions in the old barracks were epic.”
For more info: www.vladimirfilmfestival.wordpress.com