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Summit of the Non-Aligned – A skate festival in Belgrade

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It was at the Vladimir festival where we heard of Belgrade’s Samit Nesvrstanih for the first time, which immediately sparked our curiosity. Then at some point we met David Milosavljevic aka David Soda (one of the main organizers of the festival) through Danijel Stankovic and he became our tourguide for the Balkans trip that was part of filming for “Flute”. After that it was a no brainer that the festival had to host one of the premieres for the video. So we went there to experience Samit.


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David Soda

We arrived on Friday and there was some hang out, discussions, video screenings and a downhill session (with some burning obstacles) at the Museum of Yugoslavia (where you can also visit Tito’s grave) before it went on to a session at an outdoor gallery (with some more burning obstacles). The next day had a session at the DIY spot that’s located under a bridge. Besides the skatepark that’s the main meeting spot in Belgrade and there were concerts and afterwards video screenings before everybody went to a club. On Sunday there was a skateboard flea market, some more video screenings and a fashion show in a circus tent by Mariza Pavlovic. Not sure how that was related to skateboarding but it was fun and it ended with everybody dancing. Samit is not your “usual” skate event (whatever that means) and Belgrade has its own vibe. That’s two reasons why we recommend to check it out. But listen to the words of David Soda, he might even have some more reasons for you.

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Downhill Session at Museum of Yugoslavia

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Screening at the museum

How did everything start with the festival?

It started when Danilo Pisanjuk and I traveled six times to Macedonia in 2017. We have a friend named Ilija Stefanovski who runs a brand called Error of Harmony, and Lars Ekberg, a friend from Sweden living in Belgrade who connected us with Ilija. They both invited us to ride for the brand and at the end of the year they had a competition. They have a really good scene there and the father of one of the guys owns a factory and is quite wealthy so he invited everybody for dinner and wanted to support the competition. It was really great seeing what happened there and it inspired me to do something similar in Belgrade to unite the scene here. Back in Belgrade we talked to everybody who is involved in skateboarding and that’s how it started. And not only all the skateboarders, although galleries and bands we asked to participate were down to do it so it went on to even unite the Belgrade culture scene. The festival then started in 2019. Nebojša Resanović, Danilo Pisanjuk and I went near where the Vladimir film festival is, to work for half the season, to earn money and to invest in the festival to start.

"We want to show our life in Belgrade. Where we hang out, where we go to party, where we go to exhibitions, how we get drunk…"

What is the name about?

The so called Non-Aligned Movement was founded in Belgrade during the cold war. It was thought as a third bloc between East and West. It represented the African, Asian, Middle East and South American countries. We’re also not aligned. We don’t belong to culture, we don’t belong to sports. We’re in between.

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The DIY

What is the core of the festival and what did you try to showcase over the years?

The first events were just one day and nowadays it’s a four days event. From the beginning we wanted to show our life in Belgrade. Where we hang out, where we go to party, where we go to exhibitions, how we get drunk… We don’t want to bring people to places we’re not going. So the idea is to show our perfect skate day in Belgrade. As we grew we met different people and learned different stuff. Like we got in contact with a screenprinting crew (Matrijaršija, Varikina)and they became a part of our festival and we became a part of their festival. We also met some hippies (BamBam). They helped building the DIY or they’re playing drums for us. And in whichever way our life is shaping, we try to incorporate it in the festival.

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When an art gallery…

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…turns into a spot.

It’s important for you to not just have skateboarding in there, right?

I’m a skateboarder but I’m also feeling all of this other stuff. As you get older it can get tiring to just look at skateboarding. I’m really inspired watching some circus show or going to exibtions or listening to the saxophone we had this year. I want to be skateboarding one third of the festival but I want to show the people a little bit around and get them interested in other stuff as well. We’re skaters but we’re not just skaters – it’s a festival for people. In the organization there are at least 10 people who don’t even skate.

How big is the festival team?

In the group that builds the DIY spot there are at least 40 people. Artists, musicians, skaters, friends, people who lent us their van. And in the festival group there are around 30 people but not everybody had time this year so I’d say it was 15 people organizing it and ten of them are girls.

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The female part of the team

What have been some of the highlights over the years?

The first year was great, we had exhibitions by Glen Fox and Soy Panday from Magenta. Another highlight was that we were able to build the DIY in the center of the town under the main bridge. I thought police might break it but they were chill when we told them it’s for a festival and said they’ll bring their kids. 2021 we had a Sergej Vutuc exhibition where we completely covered the walls of a gallery. Last year Mattia Turco and Ali Boulala were there. This year we had an exhibition by Neža Jurman, the Solo video and Gosha Konyshev’s crazy video.

"It’s a different kind of town, like New York of the Balkans. Either you love it or you hate it."

What are your plans for the next years?

We have some bands in mind we want to book but not sure about the rest. Would be cool if we get Gustav Tønnesen to do an exhibition, this would be sick. Or Ed Templeton. The Museum of Jugoslavia was part of the festival this year and they have the best gallery in town. Maybe we can do something there at some point.

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The cirucs / fashion show / concert

How can people be part of the festival?

Everybody can just reach out to us on instagram or through mail and if it’s cool, we can find a way to do something together. Our program is not too overloaded by now. And if you want to support the festival, you can donate on the website or you can easily help as a volunteer. We all work voluntarily.

How’s the skate scene in Belgrade?

It’s not that huge. Maybe 200-300 skaters, but definitely some dedicated people. At the DIY there’s always some people skating and we build it more and more but it’s not the main spot, since it’s rough to skate. When the skatepark got built ten years ago, it killed the streetskating a bit. There are still a lot of spots that haven’t been skated or at least there hasn’t been filmed anything.

Why should people come visit the Balkans, visit Belgrade, visit the festival?

First of all because of the hospitality in Balkan. We’ll take care of you. Being at a Pumpa party or Vladmir or in Burgas, you will get very similar brain damage. Belgrade is a bit different, it's like New York of the Balkans. Either you love it or you hate it. The energy is very intense and full of noise. Come and feel it.

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