U.S. Trailer for ‘Caniba’ Gets Up Close and Personal with One of the World’s Most Notorious Killers

Written by on September 17, 2018 

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The number of living, non-tribal people who have a) eaten another human being; b) told others about their experience; c) escaped incarceration is, likely, one. Being the sole known winner of that particular contest, Issei Sagawa has spent decades as the subject of documentaries, songs (one by none other than the Rolling Stones), and perverse fascination, to say nothing of his post-crime work as a food critic. Looking at the list of films in which he’s been centered would suggest a more straight-ahead, true-crime initiative, making both unique and risky a version from Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, directors behind the immersive, immense, mind-blowing Leviathan.

That film, Caniba, has earned divided notices since its premiere last year: while some praised it, others — including our own — found it exploitative and grotesque. (Said Ethan Vestby: “There’s still the feeling that Caniba is a little too satisfied with the instant revulsion at hand, yet afraid to push into deeper psychology, as if not extending much beyond Sagawa’s own readymade link between sexuality and cannibalism, the ugly rich kid’s lustful entitlement realized to gruesome ends. As disturbing as the film can be, at the end of the day one doesn’t really take much away from it.”) It goes without saying that they’ve made a work to see for oneself — making the below trailer for its U.S. release instructive and useful.

Watch the trailer below:

A new documentary from the pioneering filmmakers behind Leviathan, Caniba reflects on the discomfiting significance of cannibalistic desire in human existence through the prism of one Japanese man, Issei Sagawa, and his mysterious relationship with his brother, Jun Sagawa. As a 32-year-old student at the Sorbonne in Paris, Issei Sagawa was arrested on June 13, 1981 when spotted emptying two bloody suitcases containing the remains of his Dutch classmate, Renée Hartevelt. Two days earlier, Mr. Sagawa had killed Hartevelt and began eating her. Declared legally insane, he returned to Japan. He has been a free man ever since. Ostracized from society, he has made his living off his crime by writing novels, drawing manga, appearing in innumerable documentaries and sexploitation films in which he reenacts his crime, and even becoming a food critic.

Caniba opens on October 19 and will have a national roll-out.


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