Photo of Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Photo of Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Lucien Castaing-Taylor

“The "technical realism," as André Bazin put it, restores to the viewers some of the autonomy they have in interpreting reality when they are confronted with it as witnesses in real life.”

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    LEVIATHAN

    VERENA PARAVEL, LUCIEN CASTAING-TAYLOR United Kingdom, 2012

    One of the first films to come out of the Sensory Ethnographic Lab and a sizeable influence on experimental nonfiction since, the shaky, murky Leviathan immerses us in marine labor and churns up the belly of the ocean. In cinema at least, the sea has rarely coruscated and clattered like this.

    DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA

    VERENA PARAVEL, LUCIEN CASTAING-TAYLOR France, 2022

    Plunging into the viscera of human bodies, the directorial duo behind Leviathan open up glistening worlds of ecstatic abstraction. Never shrinking from grit or guts, this fascinating documentary surfaces in underfunded Parisian hospitals, where doctors inject a good dose of humor into disrepair.

    SWEETGRASS

    ILISA BARBASH, LUCIEN CASTAING-TAYLOR United States, 2009

    This breathtaking view of the American West revealed the groundbreaking vision of Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Ilisa Barbash from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (Leviathan) through its visual and aural pleasures. Newly restored, Sweetgrass is one of the defining documentaries of this century.

    MANAKAMANA

    STEPHANIE SPRAY, PACHO VELEZ Nepal, 2013

    This risk-taking, radically immersive documentary from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab strips cinema to its essentials, locking down the camera and letting us observe all kinds of people as they travel to a sacred temple. A serene project that experiments with form while staying powerfully humane.

    After Leviathan won a slew of awards, its directorial duo stunned audiences with this portrait of an infamous cannibal and his brother. Unflinching? Too feeble a word for this one. As ignoble urges sidle up to fraternal loyalty in extreme close-ups, an air of obsession and moral ambivalence reigns.

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