Words & Photography by: Aymeric Nocus
At the dusk of this decade, it seems like skateboarding is juggling with two facets: its mainstream portrayal, when put on display for commercial purposes - a representation many actual skateboarders have grown tired of, and feel disconnected to; and the form of its actual, raw practice by its most sincere and straightforward enthusiasts.
The latter is the one people from all over the world celebrate by gathering yearly at the Vladimir Film Festival, an event - on its seventh edition in 2017 - which primarily aims at representing the current finest skateboarding-related independent films, exhibitions, shows and publications. And not in an effort to showcase pretentious pseudo-sophistication to some ghost of a foreign audience either, but really due to Nikola Racan and his friends, co-organizers of Vladimir, having genuinely grown up in the small village of Fažana, Croatia: a port town and former military zone completely oblivious to the dominant industry, resulting in a breed of die-hard locals who never had the option not to love the act of skateboarding for what it essentially is.
Thanks to their joined effort, in a politically hostile environment and without any outside help, over the past few years skateboarders from all continents have been booking flights to Fažana to enjoy the likes of skate video screenings at former Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito’s private cinema, intense skateboarding sessions at pre-WW1 Austro-Hungarian fortresses (when not on the streets of the nearby city of Pula), or exhibitions in cinemas surrounded by Roman constructions from the first century.
Every time, the most important part of the experience is the human factor, consisting in meeting not just the locals but also crossing paths with packs of other visitors from different horizons. An event with strong federating power between like-minded people, Vladimir has notably brought to Fažana the likes of Colin Read, Richard Hart and Zach Chamberlin from the US, Francisco Saco from Costa Rica, James Ahern from Australia, Yoan Taillandier from France, Will Harmon, Henry Kingsford, Dom Henry and many other mates from the UK, Taufek Asmarak from Singapore, Vantte Lindevall from Finland, the Absurd Skateboards team from Russia, the Rios crew from Hungary, Oli Buergin, Axel Cruysberghs and many, many more; all paying out of their own pocket for their plane tickets and accommodation, just to experience the exceptional effervescence - only to always end up coming back the following year.
Having known Nikola and his friends for most of the decade and attended Vladimir for the last five years, I was always confused as to why nobody was making a proper video documentary about their labor of love. Print magazines such as Grey, Free, Solo or Confuzine had been giving them some shine already, but I still felt like something stronger could be done, so I thought I’d sacrifice some of my own fun at the event this time to try and give it a shot.
George Toland and Rémi Luciani were down to help out with the project and ended up contributing by filming a lot of the great skateboarding that went down around the event this year - thank you so much again, guys!
The resulting piece, « Vladimir » is half a documentary, half a skate video, all wrapped up together in an experimental film that hopefully will make for a virtual journey to this year’s edition of Vladimir, and result in many physical ones to the next. I intend this to be a selfless gift to my friends and really, everybody still making interesting things in skateboarding with 2018 around the corner, fundamentally living it, breathing it - keeping it rad.