William “Billy” Friedkin’s documentary about exorcism, The Devil and Father Amorth, which has him witnessing first-hand the work of the Vatican’s in-house exorcist, was acquired by LD Entertainment who will work with ICM Partners to enter into partnerships to distribute the film worldwide.
Friedkin, of course, directed the screen adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist in 1973 which had moviegoers lining up around the block to see it. The documentary looks at how the exorcism in the movie compares to a real exorcism. The film’s title comes from the filmmaker’s ability to attend Father Gabiele Amorth’s ninth exorcism — it took place with an Italian woman who had been experiencing behavioral changes and “fits” that could not be explained by psychiatry; they became worse during Christian holidays.
Known as the “Dean of exorcists,” Father Amorth performed thousands of these rituals to rid evil from the human body. On the Italian woman, Father Amorth and the demon inside the woman began conversing in Latin, a language that the woman did not know. The priest has since died (at the age of 91).
“This film really shook me to the core,” Liddell told Deadline. “It made me wonder if this is possible, demonic possessions.”
Added Friedkin in a statement: “I never stopped being fascinated by the nature of good and evil and the possibility of demonic possession. The opportunity for me to witness and film an actual exorcism came about more than four decades after I made The Exorcist completely by accident.” The filmmaker is in post on the documentary now.
LD and Friedkin previously worked together on the 2011 indie film Killer Joe which was based on the Pultizer Prize-winning play from Tracy Letts and starred Matthew McConaughey.
LD, whose Jackie garnered three Oscar noms this year, including for its star Natalie Portman, is currently on post on three films — Jacob’s Ladder (Michael Ealy), Fast Color (GuGu Mbatha-Raw) and Live Like Line (Helen Hunt, William Hurt).
The deal for the Friedkin documentary was negotiated by ICM Partners and attorney Eric Thompson on behalf of LD Entertainment with Friedkin’s ICM reps and lawyer Marty Singer of Lavely & Singer.