IFFR Review: Liborio

Since the rise of ancient civilisations, humans have sought solace and instruction through religion. The concept of a God or gods seems to have sprung-up independently at all points of the compass. Whether these are supernatural, preternatural or merely other, they are a reflection of the people who offer them up for worship. There’s usually the need for a bridge between mortal and immortal, which normally takes the form of a prophet. This is the case in Liborio.

Set in the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century, a poor farmer, Olivorio ‘Liborio’ Mateo (Vicente Santos), goes missing during a hurricane. His family and fellow villagers fear the worst, only for the man to suddenly re-appears claiming he has a mission from heaven. Liborio’s reputation for prophesy and vaunted healing powers soon begin to attract a number of followers. When the outside world threatens to intrude, the group head to the mountains to form a commune.

Liborio is a fascinating study of the messiah complex within the wider context of the changing rural society of a country in flux. Nino Martínez Sosa’s film delves into the folk traditions of the Dominican, weaving a tale around the nation’s turbulent history. The countryside provides the backdrop to proceedings, adding an extra layer to a story which feels organic and natural. Liborio is a measured character study set within a wider socio-political ecosystem.

Liborio screens at International Film Festival Rotterdam.

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