The Battle of Oranges (La Battaglia delle Arance) is a unique, 3-day event that is part of a yearly historic carnival taking place in Ivrea, a northern Italian town located at the foothills of the Alps.
The battle celebrates the 12th century revolt of the people against a local tyrant in an unusual, symbolic way. For three days, the main squares in the old town become a temporary battleground for thousands of orange throwers representing two opposing sides: the Aranceri (orange throwers), divided into nine different teams and representing the townspeople, battle against 50 horse-driven carriages, each carrying 10 Aranceri Carri da Getto (orange throwers on carts), which represent the tyrant’s guards. Whilst these guards wear protective masks and padding, the Aranceri wear no protection whatsoever.
The origins of the orange throwing are unclear, although there is evidence that in the 19th century, people were known to throw sweets and fruit (including exotic Sicilian oranges) from the balconies as offerings to the people parading in the carnival. This practice quickly degenerated throughout the years, resulting in random orange fights during the last three days of the carnival and was even banned at one point in the late 1800s. It was only after the Second World War, however, that the first teams were created, originally from factory workers’ neighbourhoods. At this point, the battle became regulated and structured.
In modern times, the people of Ivrea and the surrounding villages have developed a deep and multi-generational connection with the Battle of Oranges. Its meaning has developed well beyond its historical roots and has become an identity for the town and the people. It is a moment every year when giving a black eye to your best friend is normal, when community comes closer and when those who live abroad come back home. It is melange of chants, adrenaline, mulled wine and the smell of orange pulp and horse manure.
Aranceri: Battle of the Oranges follows three orange throwers as they prepare for, take part in, and reflect upon Ivrea’s historic carnival. The film explores the characters’ motivations for participating in the event, while giving a brief glimpse into the the three days of frenetic battle. It soon becomes apparent that the event serves merely as a backdrop for more universal underlying themes such as friendship, loss, equality and love.
The cast is made up of three people who live in and around the Ivrea area. They reflect different ages and genders and are active in key roles in the carnival/battle. The protagonists were chosen for their unique personalities and stories, but are unified by their love of the Battle of the Oranges.
The most senior member of the cast, Lupo has become something of a living legend as far as the carnival is concerned. A former Aranceri, he had to stop participating in the battle at the insistence of doctors as eye damage threatened to leave him permanently blind. Despite this affliction, Lupo is still a very active member of his team and can be found behind-the- scenes at the battle square every day of the carnival. He is a well-traveled and sociable man who lives for the battle.
Federica’s role as an Aranceri Carri da Getto means she faces gruelling days of battle that leave her body bruised and battered. She represents the guards, fighting from a horse-drawn carriage as it passes through the town’s squares. Her participation in the carnival is significant and represents the social development and overall changes in attitudes, where a single-mother can now fight side-by-side with her male counterparts without judgment or scorn.
Riky is the youngest member of the cast, but is still very well-known by the townsfolk. Winner of the 2015 “Il Tigre” (The Tiger) prize, Riky is renowned for his fierce and fearless attitude when taking on the guards from the ground. He can be found day-after-day covered in blood and bruises, but he will not stop fighting until the very last breath. Riky often dons his late-father’s carnival costume and fights with a passion that is very telling. For Riky, the battle is much more than a three- day event. It constantly drives and influences his life and his team is like a second family to him.
ERASMUS TALBOT – DIRECTOR & COMPOSER
Erasmus – co-founder of the creative collective House of Open Doors – has, since 2012, produced and directed a string of commercials, promo-films and short- documentaries for various international companies. His insights into both visual storytelling as well as sound and music have made him a very versatile filmmaker indeed.Erasmus started his career as composer and sound designer working in the television, advertising and games industry. He worked as in-house sound designer at Disney Interactive before setting up his own company and producing music and sound effects for clients including the BBC, Microsoft, Warner Bros and Avalanche Studios. Filmmaking has always been a huge passion of his and during his studies he collaborated on various film projects overseeing editing and camera duties. In 2011 Erasmus moved from his native UK to Sweden where he ventured further into filmmaking. He has since worked on documentary projects in Stockholm and Gothenburg including the Polar Music Prize and the FEATS Theatre festival.
BILLIE EKMAN – PRODUCER
Billie has extensive experience in production from working within the film industry, including commercial films, since 2002. With her base in Stockholm, she has, since 2006, worked with commercial photo shoots and all of the production stages including castings, locations, clothes, props, budgets, permissions and logistics. Today Billie is a well known production manager for commercial photo shoots, working with customers such as Shell, Husqvarna, Mastercard and Electrolux among others as well as involvement with global projects as far afield as South Africa and Kazakhstan.Billie has built an invaluable network of contacts around the world, and she is known for her innovative process skills driving development of new ideas into final products. Her constant drive for development has led her to develop her keen interest for documentaries into her next challenge as a Documentary Producer. She knew already after the first time she participated in the Battle of the Oranges in 2013, that she wanted to produce a documentary about this unique experience.
CLÉMENT MORIN – D.O.P & EDITOR
Clément is a French photographer based in Stockholm. After side-studies in film analysis and gender representation in cinema, Clément started to work with various film projects, such as a short-documentary produced for Swedish television about the work of a photo-reporter in Syria, promotional videos for Stockholm University, as well as short travel stories.Since 2011, he has worked as the picture editor at Swedish photo-journalist agency Kontinent, bringing a more journalistic depth to his work. His pictures have been featured in Der Spiegel, Tidningen Vi and Re:public, among others.
JOSEPH JOHNSON – CAMERA & PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Joseph focuses on producing, filming and editing videos and has a keen interest in combining creative storytelling with an artistic aesthetic. His ability to guide a project from conception to completion is valuable for the project, as is the application of his technical knowledge and skill set. Joseph received a BA in Film Studies from the University of Sussex in the UK before moving on to work in arts and educational fields in England, China and now Sweden. Aside from his studies, he has persevered with personal film and photography projects for many years and became the co-founder of House of Open Doors (H.O.O.D), a start-up based in Stockholm that aims to promote inter-disciplinary collaboration and international cooperation within the filmmaking field.
ALESSANDRO ICARDI – ASSISTANT DIRECTOR & TRANSLATOR
Alessandro grew up in Ivrea and lived there until the age of 19. He later moved to Edinburgh to study Marine Biology and lived there for 10 years working in cutting edge deep-sea research and freelancing in offshore surveys around the world. Since 2012, he has been living in Stockholm and is currently studying Digital Data Strategy at Hyper Island. He has a passion for traveling off-the-beaten-track and has a curious, research-orientated mind.Alessandro has been participating in the Battle of the Oranges since he was a child and has always felt a deep connection to the festival. After many years living abroad, this event has become more than just a tradition for Alessandro, but rather a unique annual opportunity to reconnect with his roots and the people connected with them. He has a deep understanding of the event in its many layers and social aspects. He provides the team with a crucial insider’s perspective and key contacts in the local community.
VIRGILIO ARDY – STILL PHOTOGRAPHER & LOCATION MANAGER
Virgilio is a photographer born in Ivrea and now based in Turin, where he runs his own business. He specialises in event photography, often covering sports events, and runs several workshops including an annual workshop based specifically around the theme of the Carnival of Ivrea. Virgilio’s passion for photography and travel recently resulted in two projects in Scotland and Iceland. His vast network of connections in Ivrea, including the committee organising the carnival and other personalities involved in the organisation of the Battle of the Oranges, makes him an asset to the team, acting as location manager, researcher and casting director in Ivrea.
CONTACT & INFO
Phone: + 46 705 48 70 70
Office Himmelriket: Kocksgatan 17, 116 24 Stockholm, Sweden
Genre: Documentary Filmed: February 2015 Length: 23 min Language: Italian with English subtitles Project Status: Film completed, submitting to filmfestivals and looking for buyers
Director: Erasmus Talbot Producer: Billie Ekman D.O.P & Editor: Clément Morin Camera: Joseph Johnson Assistant Director: Alessandro Icardi Locationmanager/ Fixer: Virgilio Ardy Original score: Erasmus Talbot & Karl Heortweard Mixing & sound design: Tobias Hylander Colourist: Henrik Hansen