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Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
France 2017 / 73’
subtitles: Polish (English dialogs)
SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock Spin

Somniloquy is a technical term that refers to talking aloud while asleep. A Broadway songwriter named Dion McGregor was the most famous documented sleep talker. His nightly monologues-crazed and surreal, perverse and funny-were recorded over several years by a friend with whom he shared a tiny apartment in New York. McGregor narrated his dreams throughout the 1960s, introducing listeners to the world of his subconscious desires and uncensored emotions. When the mind sleeps, its ghosts awaken-McGregor's nighttime dramas are populated by dwarfs for rent, vampires clad in platinum bikinis, and ambulance-hijacking hitchhikers.Somniloquies is like a trip inside a sleeping body. At the beginning of the film, we can hear McGregor's inviting voice: I've been waiting for you. Come in. And further along, we enter the inner world of his dreaming mind, while on-screen we see the outlines of sleeping bodies. The further we get into the movie, the more expressive become the on-screen bodies, and the more delirious the dreams. Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, the founders of Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab, have made several highly experimental documentary films over the last decade, manipulating images and sound in such a way so as to provide viewers not so much with an image of the phenomenon being shown, but rather to create an illusion of a sensual experience. Somniloquies is their most avant-garde undertaking to date, completely abandoning the documentary form and approaching something more like the nightmares from the paintings of Francis Bacon or Philippe Grandrieux's nighttime phenomenology.

Ewa Szabłowska


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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.


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
cinematography Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
editing Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
sound Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
producer Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
sales Norte Productions
language English
colouration colour