Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

The Last Victory 2003

De laatste overwinning

Directed by John Appel

The Netherlands In Italian with English subtitles
88 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Erik van Empel


Mario Steenbergen


Wouter van Bemmel


Amsterdam Documentary 2003; Rotterdam 2004


Civetta, a neighbourhood in Siena, last won Il Palio, the city’s annual horse race that harks back 721 years to the pageants of medieval times, in 1979. However, 2002 may bring victory again. One of the neighbourhood’s oldest citizens, now in his 92nd year, has witnessed eight of Civetta’s previous Palio victories, and would like to be granted one more before his time is up. Children who have never seen victory are as deadly serious about the event as everyone else. Civetta, its inhabitants, and their activities in the lead up to the fateful day are the willing subjects of this affectionate and highly enjoyable study. Colourful standards deck the narrow streets and trestle tables are laid out for pre-race celebrations. Young men practise flag throwing. Horses are allotted. The square is prepared. Tension builds. Everyone, young or old, has his or her heart set on carrying off the trophy. The race itself is extremely short, given the effort and the underhand deals that occur beforehand – but the result will last all year. — SR