Directed by John Appel, starring Egidio Mecacci, Paolo Rossi, Alma Savini, Roberto Papei, Camilla Marzucchi and Alessandro Calderan.

For the people from the Civetta district of the Italian town of Sienna, the suffering has gone on far too long. The last time they won the town's famous Palio race (think eight horses running around O'Connell street with 5,000 people in the middle) was in 1979. And with every subsequent year of failure grows the fear that soon the young will forget or forsake the traditions and
importance of the Palio. Now in 2003, they have their best chance for a quarter century with a good jockey and a great horse. The neighbourhood expects - perhaps too much?

Dutch documentary maker Appel's film is a fascinating study of small town life - its hierarchies, hopes and fears, pacts and deals. Following the Civettinos from six-weeks before the race up until the big day, Appel's interviewees cover all the generations, from 92-year-old sage Egidio - who wants to see one more win before he dies - to 21-year-old Paolo, whose greatest honour is being made stable boy for this year's Palio. At first, their fanaticism for the race is difficult to go along with, but as the starting line approaches you too will get wrapped up in the prayers and politics (no-one claims it's fair) of the Palio and how much it means to Siena's smallest district to win it.

Whatever the people of Civetta expect from the future, they should be prepared for the influx of tourists wandering around their streets after this film.

Harry Guerin