Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Libera Nos’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2017 by - May 02, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Libera Nos’

Bear witness to the disturbed and the disturbing in Libera Nos, an unnerving  if not especially powerful documentary that follows around a group of priests who perform exorcisms. Sometimes, over the phone.

This Italian film isn’t scary in any traditional sense, especially compared to any features regarding exorcism. Instead, it’s simply uncomfortable, as dozens flood on particular Church believing that they or others are possessed by demons of which they need to be rid.

There are screams, some foul language, crawling and arched bodies, and perhaps some salvation. But this film by Frederica di Giacomo is simply observational. There are no interviews or narration: we tag along on trips by several priests, some of which are undergoing training due to the increased need of their profession. The framework allows intimacy in the subject but also distance from deeper understanding of the scope and power of this mechanism of the Church.

However familiar viewers may be with the concept, one that has been glorified by horror films, it’s entirely uncomfortable watching unfold in real life. Not because demons are seemingly everywhere in this story, but because people are convinced it is so, and the Church here profits of sickness. There are talks of payment and conversations concerning deviant sexual behavior; both are equally alarming. 

It’s a chilling if only superficial look into this world, one that has its foot in the religious past and another in the economic present. And yes, even one exorcism is performed over the phone. Such is the business they have chosen.

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