Vladimir - for the obscure.

The black sheep has only been developing exponentially over its now nine years of existence, and so has been the attention it's received with, this year, an approximation of three hundred people showing up from the whole planet over to attend this local festival in Fažana, Croatia - a little Istrian port town with a loaded history, testimonies of which still stand under the form of monuments everywhere (currently ensuring a steady flow of tourism), and the sensibilities of the inhabitants.

Crew report. Luka Pinto, Dillon Catney.

What originally started out as a very local initiative consisting in video screenings at the local skatepark quickly outgrew that embryonic phase as its instigators, Nikola Racan (of 'Solsticij' full-length video underground fame) and the Skateboard klub August Šenoa locals grew to use modern communication tools to get further and further in touch with universally renowned skate artists and documentarists - whether in the photo or video field.

After embracing the ruins of their traditional industry for a couple of years via a couple of editions at the D.I.Y. spots (notice the plural) they had built there, on the foundations of abandoned factories that used to help provide oxygen to the blood of their ancestors, eventually to a point of non-return, they organized themselves even stronger, won allies and gained political weight.

The festival eventually grew so far as managing the arrival and stay of an average of two hundred plus people every edition, a case that's been steady for years now - single-handedly bumping the population of the town by ten percent for a week, thanks to skateboarding enthusiasts showing up for exhibitions and screenings at the Venitian Fortress in the nearby city of Pula, or on the Brioni Islands - ex-Yugoslavia president Tito's former summer residency, complete with an outdoor cinema in the middle of a national park.

As far as sessions go, one can count on the rooftops of pre-World War One Austro-Hungarian fortresses, architectural landscapes that look like they were built for skateboarding, the guys' newest D.I.Y. spot close by or, in case of rain, an impeccable indoor miniramp right next to a ping-pong table, in case of beer.

And of course, there are cases of beer.

But all this is stuff we've recounted to you before via this documentary on the 2017 edition. As though not to make the locals' effervescent reputation lie, a lot has evolved since with new venues, new opportunities and plans for the biggest skatepark in the Mediterranean region, scheduled for this year in - you guessed it - Fažana. Well, this 2019 edition turned out to be the biggest so far, aka. nuthin' ta fuck wit'.

This year was the first time the festival nearly outgrew the city, with the organizers almost running out of local means of accomodation and (pleasurably) having to deal with venues twice as packed. Strong as they are for being the same people handling everything from day one, this didn't stop them from managing a steady flow of intrigued visitors throughout, as usual, a meticulously curated program.

The highlight of this edition had to be "STATIC XX", a retrospective exhibition of independent filmmaker from Florida and N.Y.C. Josh Stewart's works on his video series, "STATIC" featuring screenings of the original movies and rolls of sixteen millimeter film, displays of photography but also the original mini-DV tapes, master tapes, premiere posters and tickets and work notebooks in addition to - last but not least - a heartfelt opening speech by the author himself.

The prophecy of Josh's presence at Vladimir had always been written in the stars somewhere and anyone familiar with the festival should have sensed it, given the obvious influence of Josh on Nikola's works and D.I.Y. attitude, so 2019 turned out to be the year said presence would materialize and it is clear that both parties recognized their mutual significance, as demonstrated by the amount of work put by both activists into the exhibition.


"STATIC XX" is still up at the Venitian Fortress in Pula and will be until October 25th. Josh is gone but still, the displays alone might warrant one crazy initiative of a trip; for those tempted and passionate enough (I salute you).

Following an already wild first evening of independent video screenings ("The Ultimate Pessertive Remix" by Javier Varillas; "Ciao" by Ricardo Napoli; the timeless "To Ni Hec" by Tomaž Šantl, then Sean Lomax's underground hit of the year "Cottonopolis"), photo and artwork exhibitions by Brian Lotti, Ricardo Napoli, Tom Delion, Jenne Grabowski, Pete Thompson, Jordan Hill and Slovenian legend Peter Fettich, and an independent skate market featuring stands for local companies i.e. Simple or Absurd, skate stores such as Palomino or artists such as Marko Zubak and Nez Pez, Daniel Lebron Castaños and Ramon Piñas Gracia played a beautiful flamenco concert to cheer an intense audience even stronger on a second night that, of course, involved even more video screenings.

Digesting the depth of the aforementioned Peter Fettich and Jaka Babnik's insightful presentation of Peter's new photo book on the Slovenian D.I.Y. skate scene, "Rispect The Boul", with the aid of food and more cases of beer, the audience got to undergo hypnosis from a big list of heavy-hitters, including the independent videos "Tabula Rasa" by Raul Žgomba from Pula, "Pandora's Box" (or "Blocks"?) by Luka Pinto from Jersey (one should be familiar with his name from Jacob Harris' "Eleventh Hour") as well as "If You Don't Skate, Don't Start" by the unstoppable Krzysztof Godek from Poland. Davy Van Laere was having an outdoor photo exhibition, too, which had to catch the attention of anyone trying to tumble around in its vicinity.

Both nights obviously ended at the Kasarna for more miniramp, table tennis and drunken antics. A kid's board got focused by a grown man's naked butt, folks danced into oblivion, and credit card problems were had.

(More cases of beer, etc.)

Tibor aka. King Rakija.

In the nearby, bigger city of Pula, local cinema Kino Valli hosted a quality photo exhibition by Julian Furones, then in-room screenings of Paul Botwid's "Skate Nation", David Makulan's fantastic "Reactions" - clearly a must-see - and Olivier Lambert's "Grinding the Country", a little documentary on the skate scene in the French countryside that probably resonated with the (old?) struggles of many. Henry Kingsford of Grey Skate Mag then exhibited his photography, at Galerija Cvajner.

The frenzy of this already packed program only culminated on the last night, one boat ride across and over to the Brioni Islands, as previously evoked.

Under starry skies, paths were lost, feathers were found and the event's timeline was dominated by the showings of Jim Craven's new masterpiece "Pearls", "Dorkzone 2: Le Boxx" by Phil Evans (another author whose presence was long overdue), Nils Svensson and Mike O'Shea, and finally Thomas Campbell's latest epic: the long-anticipated experimental movie "Ye Olde Destruction".

Those who survived said destruction got to enjoy one more closure night at the local Notturno bar aka. Black Lady for an intense skate quiz meets karaoke session organized by Marko Zubak, whilst those who had found Kirill Korobkov's secret exhibition hidden somewhere in Fažana and completed Nich Kunz's skate crossword puzzle in the festival's newspaper (each year featuring exclusive interviews and content, only available on location and limited to a few thousand copies) earned themselves rounds of free drinks from Kasarna.

If Nez Pez got to spread quite a few tattoos, this Vladimir altogether definitely left a mark on each and everyone remotely involved in its participation and, if you're romantic enough to have made it through so much loaded writing (but in many ways, there couldn't be any more fitting kind), then we'll probably see each other next year, for the tenth anniversary edition already rumored to be the most ambitious one to date - as the law of forward-thinking and the endless energy of the locals would dictate.

Endless thanks to Nikola, Oleg, Marina, Butko, Iris, Tibor, Marko, Nich and all the Skateboard klub August Šenoa culprits for all the magic.

Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

Wait to pass announcement...