The art of documentary-making has been trending to harrowing new extremes in recent years, potentially due to the prevalence of true crime content – be it the podcast Serial or Netflix’s Making a Murderer series – with viewers’ penchants for darker truths becoming paramount. Though sexy, murderous docs have been ruling the mainstream, recent slow-burning, quietly brutal offerings like The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence are the stories of bleak humanity that last long after the film stops.
Deliver Us, despite not quite hitting the same emotional notes, is of the same class of work, focusing on an Italian Catholic church and its work in dealing with alleged demonic possession, doing its best to eschew the spectre of The Exorcist in telling its tale. Sicilian priest Father Cataldo leads a weekly mass plagued by screams, hisses and howls, a cacophonic tableau of illness all seeking deliverance from what ails them.
Naturally with anything concerning belief, all preconceptions are best left at the door. The existence of a divine being isn’t here to be proved or disproved, and so instead we focus on the human spirit and the importance of faith, when solace is hard to find. As such Deliver Us is handled delicately and honestly; there are no floating 12-year-olds using the C word while vomiting, nobody able to turn their head 360 degrees – here, the people searching for a cure may be troubled but the depiction is true, stark and not for shock.
Federica Di Giacomo’s Deliver Us is an affecting film showcasing the method of exorcism as a means of self-improvement and not some absurd spectacle as is often depicted in cinema. The work done by Father Cataldo is of great importance and this intimate documentary does it justice.
DIRECTOR: Federica Di Giacomo
WRITERS: Andrea Zvetkov Sanguigni, Federica Di Giacomo
SYNOPSIS: Documentary about the practice of exorcism and people’s issues of everyday life: the contrasts between ancient traditions and modern habits.