‘De Humani Corporis Fabrica’ Trailer: Grotesque medical documentary

From the directors of Leviathan, the mesmerizingly grotesque new film De Humani Corporis Fabrica will premiere at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes.

It’s hard to imagine two braver voices in the documentary field than Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. The directors made their name with Leviathan, an immersive fishing documentary that gleefully defied genre conventions to show fishing in all its cruel beauty. Realistic approaches to living and decomposing flesh have defined her style for years, and the filmmakers’ latest work seems to be no exception.

In De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Paravel and Castaing-Taylor apply their unique camera techniques to the human body, combining medical footage with a cinematic sensibility to depict the body in an unprecedented way.

“After thinking about how modern medicine has used the tools of cinema to develop its own vision, we wanted to try to do the opposite, borrow the tools of medicine for cinema to allow us to explore the human Seeing bodies in a way none of us ever get to see, and breaking up the usual way we look at our bodies and the world,” said Paravel, describing the film’s making process. “To give us a glimpse of our inner selves, which are more physical, more incarnate. But one that also lets us sense our vulnerability: the fragility of life and the ever-present specter of death.”

The official synopsis of De Humani Corporis Fabrica reads: “Five centuries ago, the anatomist André Vésale opened the human body to science for the first time in history. Today, “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” ​​opens the human body to the cinema. It shows that human flesh is an extraordinary landscape that only exists through the gaze and attention of others. As places of care, suffering and hope, hospitals are laboratories that connect everyone in the world.”

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The directors are no strangers to human flesh material. Her 2018 documentary Caniba is essentially a full-length monologue from real-life cannibal Issei Sagawa, who tells (in vivid detail) the story of how he killed and ate a woman in 1981. The film drew some extremely strong reactions, some praising its boldness and many, many others loathing it. Based on the teaser and early descriptions of De Humani Corporis Fabrica, this film seems likely to be equally polarizing at Cannes.

De Humani Corporis Fabrica will premiere tomorrow at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes. You can check out the teaser, exclusive to IndieWire, below:

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