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Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
France 2017 / 90’
Beautiful Things Casanova Gene

In 1981, a Japanese student named Issei Sagawa was arrested in Paris for killing and eating a friend from his University dorm. After being deported to Japan, where he avoided prison on a technicality, not only did he have a career as a culinary critic, TV star and porn actor, but he also described his crime and illustrated it in the form of a manga. These days, he is ill, in a wheelchair and under the care of his brother, whose interests are just as unorthodox. The grotesque story of this Japanese cannibal, as told by the famous anthropological and directing duo of Véréna Paravel and LucienCastaign-Taylor (Somniloquies, 2017 New Horizons; Leviathan, 2013 New Horizons) goes beyond the sensational aspects of these events. With anthropological precision, the founders of the Harvard Sensory Lab have produced a carnal study of the crime that penetrates the dark recesses of the cannibal's mind and investigates his erotic fantasies about eating and being eaten by another human being. This is not a film for viewers with weak nerves-it contains scenes that can be considered drastic. It is both fascinating and repulsive.

Ewa Szabłowska


Venice IFF 2017 – Special Jury Prize

Véréna Paravel

Born in France, Véréna Paravel is an anthropologist and film director. She works at the Sensory Ethnography Lab and Film Study Center at Harvard University. She made her short film debut with 7 Queens. Her subsequent film, Interface Series, was a collection of five short films shot using Skype. Foreign Parts, which was made together with J.P. Śniadecki, won awards at numerous festivals, including the Best First Feature Award and the Special Jury Award at the Locarno Festival. Since 2008, she has been working with Lucien Castaing-Taylor, with whom she made the multi-award-winning Leviathan, which was recognized as the best documentary film of 2013.

Selected filmography

2008 7 Queens (short)

2010 Interface Series (short)      

2010 Foreign Parts (co-dir., doc.)

2012 Lewiatan / Leviathan (co-dir.)

2017 somnilokwie / somniloquies (co-dir.)

Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Born in Liverpool in 1966, Lucien Castaing-Taylor teaches at Harvard, where he also runs the Sensory Ethnography Lab. He made his debut with the short films Made in USA and In and Out of Africa, which were shot together with Ilisa Barbash, with whom he also made the award-winning Sweetgrass. Castaing-Taylor is a professor in the Faculty of Visual Arts, and he also creates multimedia installations, such as The High Trail and Bedding Down. Since 2008, he has been working with Véréna Paravel, with whom he made the multi-award-winning Leviathan, which was recognized as the best documentary film of 2013.

Selected filmography

1990 Made in USA (co-dir., short)

2001 In and Out of Africa (co-dir., doc.)

2009 Sweetgrass (co-dir.)

2010 The High Trail (short)

2012 Bedding Down (short)

2012 Lewiatan / Leviathan (co-dir.)

2017 somnilokwie / somniloquies (co-dir.)

Cast & Crew

director Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
screenplay Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
cinematography Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
editing Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
music Nao Nakazawa, Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
producer Valentina Novati, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel
production Norte Productions, S.E.L
sales Elle Driver
language English
colouration colour