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; be challenged

director's statement 2019;

Šimon Šafránek

King Skate

It started a couple of years ago. Not up on some hill, not on any ramp. On a couch. The afternoon I opened a book written by my friends, Martina Overstreet and Michal Nanoru. It’s called Prkýnka na maso jsme uřízli /As We Carved Some Chopping Boards/. The book wasn’t mine and it was sold out.

Screw everything and just go.

The very first memory of this project is from Municipal Library of Prague. Running home from the counter, the book was my trophy, just open it! And it was right there. The words were jumping out of the pages, screaming with a spectacular fervour, passion and love. And then the photos! Archive snaps vibrating with motion even after all those years. And the motion caught my eye. Because what is a film if not a motion? A liquid time I can experience while with a photo I can only deduce its story and context. Riding a skateboard has always brought out a romantic feeling of freedom: screw everything and just go. The sound of that primordial instinct, just hop on a horse, just get in a car, just jump on that small board with wheels. To bolt, to zoom off, to whizz through the space. Adrenalin, adventure. This pioneering fascinates me, the chance to be a part of something untested, of something historically new…

I borrowed that book from the library several times. My own name would follow itself over and over in the waiting list. I would write down memories and notes, set up the first draft. I tried to meet up with Michal and Martina, I wanted to have them both on my team. They were incredibly busy, it took about a year for us to get together. And sure enough, all it takes then is a couple of minutes over a lemonade. It was a similar story with the producer. Kateřina Černá from Negativ Productions is a member of the skaters’ group and I’d see her every year at Cannes IFF. Kateřina introduced me to Vojta Kotek, a diligent archivist of films about skateboarding. Vojta provided me with 130 GB of film archives and I ran home with the HD. USB into USB and let’s get things going!

The longer I watched the archives the more clearly I could see various points of view. Some focus on races, others prefer friends’ antics. I had to supplement the archives with statements and stories of skaters. We’d meet at places which were key for them – Prague quarter Strahov where the first ramp used to stand, a clearing by Polička where summer camps used to take place and sporting grounds in Prachatice, a place of gatherings of the same name. In Karlovy Vary we were searching for remnants of a fire reservoir which skaters had used as a substitute for a Californian pool. Together with editor Šimon Hájek we spent months in an editing room. All in all, we spent almost a year there. Now things are turning full circle, the film is finished and we can’t wait to show it to those who contributed the most: to skateboarders themselves, and we want them to watch it at the place where they’d go for years – at Karlovy Vary IFF. Because we as well as them want to live in freedom without anyone counting down the Three-two-one-go for us.

Šimon Šafránek
King Skate

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