We have for you what the Romans would’ve called a bonus maximus equinus. We’ve teamed up with our friends at Stella Artois to bring you the latest sumptuous offering from the ShortList Film Club: Palio.
It’s no lie to say that this is one of the most gripping sport documentaries ever. The Palio di Siena is a biannual horse race, with roots going back to the 14th century, held in the city’s Piazza Del Campo. And it makes the Grand National look like a pony club.
For those who view Tuscany as the place where people from Islington go to eat things with the word ‘rustico’ in its name, this film (out 25 September) will be an eye-opener. Each race is between 10 of the city’s 17 contrade or districts, some of which have cool names (Eagle, Forest, Dragon), some of which do not (Seashell, Tortoise, Crested Porcupine). There seem to be few rules, with jockeys – mercenaries who ride for any district – allowed to bribe and strike each other (and their horses) with their hands or crop – made from a stretched and dried ox penis. Think a mix of Hunger Games, Ben-Hur and A Clockwork Orange, with added gesticulation.
The film concentrates on the contest between Gigi Bruschelli – 13-time Palio winner, all-time great and master manipulator – and the young pretender, Giovanni Atzeni, who’s seeking glory rather than money. It’s bizarre, funny, dramatic, with some breathtaking action shots. It’s also, if you sign up for our screenings, free to watch.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
The first batch of tickets is available at ourscreen.com/shortlistfilmclub
[Images: Altitude Film Distribution/Picturehouse Entertainment]