Vans’ Skate and Surf Film Festival

By: Silvia Galliani

After the triumph of the previous editions, the
Skate and Surf Film Festival
has returned to Milan as the European leg of
House of Vans
. The Grand Opening of the three-day music, skate and party event took place in Piazza Duca D’Aosta, in front of Milan’s Central Station. The event then continued, just like the previous year, at the Ex Slaughterhouse, a short distance from the Porta Vittoria station. About 14,000 people attended during the 3-day festival with a diverse and multigenerational audience, as well as international filmmakers and riders.

We at The Pill were able to get a taste of the mood of the event a few days before the grand opening, at the Vans Store Orefici11 in Milan, where a very interesting surf workshop was held led by shaper Jacopo Causa, aka CJ Surfboards, and Luca Barcellona, graphic designer and a leading name in the world of modern calligraphy. From choosing shapes, to making a board, to creatively customizing it, the practical and theoretical workshop kept us entertained and put us in the right spirit to tackle the next three days of the festival.

The Skate and Surf Film Festival represents the first international event aimed at promoting the culture of surfing and skateboarding in Italy with premieres, must-see documentaries on the skate and surf scene, both national and international, and an out-of-competition section dedicated to unique film-events and premieres.

But SSFF was not limited to just films. Indeed, the event is a true celebration of the most authentic values of surf and skate culture. On a specially designed ramp and obstacles, the best skateboarders on the national scene competed in afternoon and evening contests.

There was no shortage of free activities including a skate school for those who love boards and want to learn, a surfboard building workshop where “shapers” gave an immersive experience in the art of surfboard making thanks to the participation of top Italian craftsmen and a few international guests. In addition, the festival also featured a vintage area, an upcycling workshop, and a selection of iconic manufacturers from the international surf and skate world exhibiting alongside selected brands.

There was also a unique retrospective of established and emerging artists who have shaped the culture of these disciplines, with displays of photos, paintings, and collectible skate and surf boards. Among the artists exhibiting this year is Craig Stecyk, author of the award-winning documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” a photographer and founder of the Zephyr Skate Shop from the early days of the California skate and surf scene, whose photographs taken in the heyday of the 1970s and 1980s introduced the world to this counterculture.

There was also no shortage of music, which has always been the backdrop for this unique event thanks to a schedule of live performances and DJ sets to celebrate and experience the sounds of this culture. From afternoon to night, international and up-and-coming bands, DJ sets and acoustic experiments kept us dancing, dreaming and inspired. All that’s left is for us to look forward to next year!