Welcome to our newest Place Presents, and as these go on and on, at times one wonders what to write. But, today that is not the case, because we are presenting a video made by Carmen Benito. Chile is where she is from and it holds a special place in our hearts because we have a history with many skaters from that country. What is even more impressive though, is the fact that the scene in Chile has a lot of people working on it, creating spaces, events, and projects to make the scene better. Carmen is one of those people. Still don’t believe my words, go read hers. Enjoy.
Intro and Interview by Roland Hoogwater.
Video by Carmen Benito.
Graphics by Paula Valderrama.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Carmen Benito and I was born in Santiago de Chile, and have been living in Mexico City for the past three years now. I’m a Director of photography and still a photographer. I’m always looking to experiment with formats that allow me to express different emotions. I’ve been skating for a long time now, and most of the time my personal work has been closely tied to skateboarding in one way or another.
When did you start skating and when did you start filming this project and with whom?
I started skating in 2005, when I was 10 years old, in Chile, in the neighborhood that I grew up in. As far as this project goes, I started filming this video during my last visit to Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina between March and April of 2023. Not long before my trip, I had bought a Sony VX2100 and I really wanted to film with it. I traveled with my partner Mateo Barbuzzi, who is a photographer and a publisher.
The idea was to make one visual journey between me and Mateo. I would show it through my video and he did it through his analog photography, which ended up becoming a new edition of Mostro Skate Zine. I highly recommend people to check it out, the zine is a big source of inspiration for me.
Previously we had worked together on three projects in the same way, one in Bariloche, Argentina, one in San Francisco, California, and another one in Mexico City. When we got to Santiago it was very easy to start working on the project with my group of friends, same in Argentina, everything panned out very naturally. I’m very grateful that they’ve always trusted in my work.
“Little by little safer spaces are developing and acquiring respect from the community, even though it’s been tough getting there. Especially for female skateboarding and other diverse groups.”
Tell me about the title and how it came about.
We went to a spot where the ground/concrete was cracked, and there my friend Gaspar lost it and went crazy trying to fix the concrete, we were there for a long time, all while he was trying to file down a stone to make it fit in the cracks, he ended up so tired and dirty that he couldn’t get back on his board. And that’s when I thought about the word AFAN, which expresses the interest or deep desire that you place in something very specific, a very deep desire to make or accomplish something.
The crew is eclectic, how did you gather all these people to be in your video?
I wrote to my friends while I was in Mexico, letting them know that we’d be going to Chile and Argentina for a few days, and asked them to think about certain tricks and spots that they’d like to film, and that’s how we got them motivated to film. so when we arrived we immediately took to the streets looking for spots. In Buenos Aires it was the same thing, but with a group of friends that’s linked to the Mostro Skate Zine.
Tell me a little about the scene in South America based in Chile… So what are some
There’s a huge amount of skaters in Chile, it is impressive looking back at it from afar, every time you’re out and about in the city you run into someone on a skateboard. There’s always a plan to go out and skate, and overall there’s a big street skating scene.
Little by little safer spaces are developing and acquiring respect from the community, even though it’s been tough getting there. Especially for female skateboarding and other diverse groups.
It’s a bit difficult for me to speak about the “skate scene”, being that my friends and I were always a part of something a bit more underground. Something that was created out of the core values based on respect, self-management, and overall having fun. Outside of that, the skate scene has always been polluted with dangerous sexism. This is why we have always been distant from that “skate scene” and that led to us creating alternative safe spaces for ourselves and the others looking for a space in which we could all feel safer, talk openly about the problems within the scene, and be able to skate without competing with one another. This has led to an important female skate group. We made our own videos and had our own gatherings because it was so difficult even to be seen as a part of any other event.
From my personal experience, I think that it was a pivotal movement that happened in the Chilean skate scene. As the years passed, other separate groups were created that had the same principles. These alternate groups must exist, being that being a part of a broader “scene” is very difficult, because we are not all the same.
In the case of Argentina, I feel like there’s always been a great community, I always traveled when I was younger along with my group of friends “Viejas Locas”. We would have a great time skating, and some of the best experiences, all of our friends would always welcome us as if it were our home, and they would take us to skate all the spots. To me, Buenos Aires is a very special city with motivated and lovely people who have always made connections possible thanks to their culture of welcoming people in.
“AFAN is somewhat sentimental for me. Although I think that a lot of things that I film have a bit of this too, being back in your own city after a long time really provokes a special feeling…”
Is this your first video?
Since I was very young I started filming skate videos with my friends. It was essential to me and I made them with any camera that I had within my reach. As time passed I started studying cinematography, and this would lead to filming becoming my job.
Throughout the years I started working with projects that would go along with my aesthetic preferences, like videos in hi8 format and other mixes between analog and digital formats. The last skate project that I worked on before AFAN was a collaboration with the Mexican streetwear brand Tony Delfino and the publisher Club del Prado. It was named “Calles Como Serpientes” and it was filmed in Mexico City, in a neighborhood called Cuautepec, a place filled with incredible and difficult spots to skate. I ended up, filming it all on super 8mm film, which is a format that I love. It’s a very geographical video, in which skateboarding serves as a vehicle to show the architecture of the neighborhood. To me, it was a great experience to be able to go to that place and share with skateboarders from Mexico City.
Afterwards, this last video AFAN is somewhat sentimental for me. Although I think that a lot of things that I film have a bit of this too, being back in your own city after a long time really provokes a special feeling, I think that primarily I got to see that inevitable desire that skateboarding gives to people, and which is what surprises me the most while skating and watching other people skate. It’s a skate video about friendship.
We need to know about the soundtrack, tell me your general process of picking songs and how important it is to you.
I’m quite superstitious in that sense, generally, I listen to music in connection to what I have filmed, and when I feel some emotion from a particular song I start trying to edit it, trying things out. Sometimes when I hear something I know that it will be a fit for a specific video. I can feel that the music represents what I want to express. I would love to collaborate with musicians and do some projects together in the future. In general, music is really important in life. I have a lot of skate videos and memories engraved in my mind primarily because of the music in them.
We have seen multiple videos from Chileans but Chile is notoriously hard to skate, how is it being a skater in Chile?
I think that within Latin America, Chile is a really good place to skate. I was able to travel to a lot of surrounding countries and I think that compared to the other cities, Santiago has a lot of good street spots. Still, they come with their degree of difficulty, of course. The ground can be complicated, and there is a lot of police repression. Despite these things, I still consider it to be a great city to skate, you can find a lot of spots, and on top of that, we have a lot of DIY skate spots that are fun to skate. Both the Valparaiso & Antofagasta regions are magical. With downhills and crazy corners with hidden spots, it has very special architecture, the list goes on and on, I can keep naming cities!!
Lastly, will other projects be coming?
At this moment I’m working on a small poetic project about the city of San Francisco, California, in super 8mm format and soon I’m hoping to be able to continue experimenting with projects surrounding skateboarding.
Thanks a lot for the feature and for showing different approaches to skateboarding!