'Palio' Clip: Losing Jockeys Are Kicked, Spat On and Grab Knives for Protection (Exclusive)
In this look at the documentary about the world's oldest horse race and the strategy and intrigue leading up to it, former riders recall how you're despised if you lose the Siena event.
The world's oldest horse race — and the strategy, intrigue and secret deals made to secure a win — are the focus of the Anglo-Italian documentary Palio, which is making its world premiere at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
Taking place twice a year in Siena, with each race never lasting more than 90 seconds, the Palio features horses from each of the city's 17 competing districts. The jockeys, who are loved or hated by the districts they represent based on the outcome of the race, make secret, lucrative deals ahead of the event. Specifically, the film follows veteran rider Gigi Bruschelli, who has won 13 races in 16 years and mastered the system. He's two races away from beating the world record, but his former apprentice, jockey Giovanni Atzeni, is preparing to challenge him.
Director Cosima Spender was given rare, behind-the-scenes access to the race and everything that leads up to it.
The exclusive clip below highlights how jockeys have been despised after losing past races, with video from 1974 showing one being beaten and kicked by a group of people. An older jockey who competed against Bruschelli and lost recalls how afterward he was smuggled into a building, but the crowd saw where he went, so he grabbed two big kitchen knives to defend himself. The police finally rescued him, and even though he was protected, he was assaulted on the way out. Another jockey, recounting his own story, says that when he rode, people spat on him.
"If nobody spits at you, you're worthless," he says.
The film was co-produced by James Gay-Rees, who also worked on the upcoming Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, and the Oscar-nominated Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Palio is set to premiere on Saturday, April 18, with additional screenings throughout the festival. More information about those, including how you can buy tickets, is available here.
Watch the clip below.