Watch documentary Sartiglia in the U.S. and Canada on MHz Choice!

Premiering June 14, 2022 on MHz Choice!

It’s utterly unique to our modern eyes and kind of haunting. The Sartiglia festival in Oristano on the island of Sardinia transports you to the sixteenth century, a world ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, a world of lances and swords rather than gunpowder. A world of trumpet fanfare and knights and chivalry. The festival came to Sardinia from Spain during the Middle Ages and put in the simplest terms is a mix of theater, music, jousting and equestrian feats. Participants play formal, unchanging roles and to this newcomer’s eye the festival seems to be a way the community encourages itself by expressing hopes for blessing, prosperity and bountiful crops. The main players wear other-worldly masks and the horses are covered by beautiful hand-sewn rosettes. One of the goals of the participants – the knights – is to catch a star-shaped token with a sword or spear. Other knights engage in a high-speed horse race in which they perform acrobatics on the horses’ backs.

In the short episodes of Sartiglia (Videoplugger), we go behind the scenes as the community preps for this festival. Seamstresses, horse riders, builders, musicians, guild members, actors and actresses, veterinarians… they all play a role. The result – happening each year on Carnival Sunday and Shrove Tuesday – is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

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