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Trailer Watch: Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica

A squirm-inducing sensation on the festival circuit, Harvard Sensory Lab leaders Lucien Castaing-Tayler and Véréna Paravel’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica has a new trailer ahead of its limited release next month. The film consists of raw medical footage—eye surgery, genital drilling and an assortment of equally unsettling internal procedures—shot between eight different French hospitals.

Vadim Rizov covered De Humani during its Cannes premiere last year, writing:

Fabrica toggles between something like Fantastic Voyage and a particularly grody Wiseman documentary. Defamiliarizing images on the former front include a camera being inserted deep inside….whatever (I don’t want to know) that made me wonder why I’ve never seen a sci-fi set sculpted to look like it was made out of tripe, and an eye surgery where the iris has the intense yellow of a very fresh egg yolk. The most grueling imagery is frontloaded; as what remained of the audience settled in, it became clear that there are indeed correct places to laugh, especially when a doctor observes, during a prostate surgery, “It’s getting a bit abstract.”

We also ran an interview out of Cannes between Nicolas Rapold and the film’s directors, which reveals the painstaking methods and various cameras they used to capture their footage. Castaing-Tayler also responded to the reputation De Humani quickly garnered among festivalgoers:

I don’t think either of us is interested in disorientation in some shock sense, or like some horror film, or for suspense in and of itself. But it is true that we go through most of our filmmaking lives being oriented, and it does seem to me that despite our desire to be oriented, we’re often disoriented and uncomprehending, and there are ways in which our brains and imaginaries are activated when we’re not under the illusion that we understand everything.

De Humani Corporis Fabrica will open via Grasshopper Film at IFC Center in New York City on April 14 and Laemmle Theatre in Los Angeles on April 28.

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