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Palio

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Palio
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

As brightly-clad jockeys pelt bareback in a 90-second gallop round the historic main square of Siena, Italy, the horse race billed as the world’s oldest looks for all the world like a shameless tourist-bait charade. What this mesmerising doc reveals, however, is that its blend of ritual, bravado and cunning is hard-wired into the very fabric of the Tuscan city itself, where rival districts and their steeds battle it out for glory – but not before paying the riders to bribe their fellow competitors first.

Director Cosima Spender and her eagle-eyed camera crew prove insightful guides into this alternate reality lorded over by a veteran, utterly unscrupulous jockey looking for a record-breaking win, but challenged by a lower-class newcomer seeking only the glory of victory. That compelling central conflict winds up the suspense as the big race approaches, and if the film is understandably intoxicated by the multi-coloured spectacle on offer, it’s under no illusions as to the insidious corruption and insane brutality unleashed on the path to the prize. An absolute eye-opener, see it on the biggest screen you can.

Written by
Trevor Johnston

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 25 September 2015
  • Duration:90 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Cosima Spender
  • Screenwriter:Cosima Spender, John Hunt
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