Carne et Ossa

Year: 2023

Director: Roberto Zazzara

Playing time: 56 minutes

Language: Italian

Subtitles: English

There are many ways of subjecting yourself to pain in the mountains, but what the principle characters in Carne et Ossa (Flesh and Bones) put themselves through is a very special kind of pain. To run down a mountainside full of jagged stones as fast as possible with bare feet.

Is it sport, an age-old tradition, the purest form of devotion or a combination of all three which drives the men and women from Pacentro in the Central Italian region of Abruzzi en masse in this ordeal? As they run downhill, the skin on their soles is ripped away and the blood streams profusely on the sharp rocks, sometimes down to the bone, before the participants eventually reach the valley bottom and collapse in front of the altar of Madonna di Loreto church, the winner being held aloft on a special shield. Afterwards there is a procession through the village, where all the inhabitants turn out, pay their respects and celebrate wildly. For the competitors, what follows in the days and weeks ahead is pain and physical discomfort. No one knows the origin of this remarkable tradition.

Director Roberto Zazzara regularly works in India. The film, in which he interviews participants about the reasons why they subject themselves to this annual ritual, is shot in sharp and moody black and white, alternated with old recordings of the race in colour. In its bloodiest moments, you can almost feel their pain. You don’t have to look!

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