Release the French science fiction film Hu-Man (1975) on home video

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The aim of this petition is to convince BFI Video Publishing to release the French science fiction film Hu-Man (1975) on home video for the first time in a dual-format Blu-ray/DVD edition. The only fiction feature film of documentary director Jérôme Laperrousaz starring Terence Stamp and Jeanne Moreau is a film experience urgently needing a home video release.

Hu-Man premiered in France on 30th September 1975 and was followed by a limited general theatrical release on 1st October 1975 when it only played at four cinemas in Paris; at the Colisée, Quintette, Madeleine and Montparnasse-Pathé film theatres. Despite receiving favourable reviews in local film magazines and other printed media the film failed at the box office. However, it soon found some success at home and abroad as it was later shown at fantasy and science fiction festivals in Vannes that year and in Clermont-Ferrand in March 1976; nominated for Best Sound at the 1st César Awards in Paris on 3rd April 1976; won the Grand Prix Golden Asteroid at the 14th Trieste International Science Fiction Film Festival in July 1976 where lead actor Terence Stamp also won the Silver Asteroid for Best Actor for his role in the film; and garnered critical acclaim at the San Sebastián, San Francisco and Belgrade International Film Festivals which took place between late 1976 and early 1977. After its moderate success on the domestic and international film festival circuits, the film aired twice on French television on 18th August 1977 on the regional channel FR3 and on 16th January 1981 as part of the national channel A2's programme Ciné-club before disappearing for nearly twenty years since its second broadcast.

In 1998, Northern Irish film director, historian and critic Mark Cousins interviewed Terence Stamp for his now defunct BBC interview series Scene by Scene. Sometime during this episode they watch and discuss clips from Hu-Man that show Stamp's character in different dangerous situations, all filmed for real without special effects according to Stamp. The segment of the episode showing the scenes is included above with the clips starting at 01:21. These sequences gave viewers possible leads to track down the film, but without success as they tried contacting Mark Cousins and Terence Stamp's agent to find its whereabouts, but they never got a reply from Cousins and Stamp's agent couldn't help.

The film has long been hard-to-find and watch and the reasons for it never been released on any home video format in its native France or anywhere else have been obscure as the film itself, but more recently copyright issues have been brought to light. According to a comment posted on a review for a 25-minute short version of the film which will be discussed below, Haroun Tazieff, a Polish-born French volcanologist who was a technical advisor for the volcano sequences shot in the Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia claimed the footage as his own and legal proceedings followed. This was probably why the film has never been released on home video since its French theatrical, international film festival and French television showings. The comment poster was invited by a friend who worked on the film to see it when it first came out and several months later he explained this matter to him which makes this information credible.

On 8th May 2013, a 25-minute edited short version of Hu-Man screened as part of a Terence Stamp Season at BFI Southbank in London. The taster screening introduced by Stamp himself and the film's director Jérôme Laperrousaz was very well received and gave audiences a sample of something rare and special. When asked online by an audience member why the full-length 105-minute version couldn't be shown, BFI Southbank replied: ''the director did have a print but it was very faded, and time and costs restraints meant we were unable to present a properly restored print. However, we worked together with Jerome Laperrousaz and Terence Stamp to make something happen for the retrospective, and the result was about 25 minutes worth of colour-corrected clips projected digitally.'' Considering the film's cult status and demand, if the BFI can edit and remaster a quarter of its footage for the exhibition then surely they can restore and release the entire film on home video. Hopefully the aforementioned copyright problems could be resolved in the latter case since the BFI has already produced a short version of the film.

In late August 2015, the next best thing came. An 86-minute French-language cut version of Hu-Man recorded from its 1977 French television broadcast surfaced on the French torrent website L'Univers Étrange et Merveilleux du Fantastique et de la Science-Fiction, which is dedicated to uploading torrents of old science fiction, fantasy and horror films from all over the world with many French rarities as well. Fan made subtitles were later created it for it by a user of another rare and hard-to-find film/TV tracker, Cinemageddon where the torrent and subtitles were also uploaded and on other lost media sites. Despite having 19 minutes of the original film cut from it, its degraded picture quality and it apparently not being in its proper aspect ratio (it was taped in the late 1970s after all, two decades before most broadcasters began moving to widescreen TV in the late 1990s) it was still watchable and viewers were able to enjoy this long unseen obscurity albeit again in a truncated, though much longer form. However, like myself they still want to see an uncut, remastered and restored print of the film which makes this petition all the more valid and crucial.

The proposed dual-format edition must first and foremost feature a newly remastered and restored print of the complete 105-minute film with its original English (it was originally shot in English from what I've gathered from the clips shown on the Terence Stamp episode of Scene by Scene as well as a review for the American entertainment trade magazine Variety which was written at the time of the film's general cinema release in France) and French dubbed soundtracks with optional English subtitles. The 25-minute short version should secondly also be part of the package, either as an alternate version or a special feature because it inspired this petition in the first place as it reconfirmed the film's existence after being believed lost for many years. Other special features such as the film's original theatrical trailer, interviews, etc. are to be at BFI Video Publishing's discretion since the distributor always includes an array of extras with its releases.

I the petition starter have been interested in the film for a long time, ever since first reading about it in Phil Hardy's The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies (1984) as well as in other science fiction film and television books and online reviews. A lot of the past reviews in said books merely outlined the plot of the film with very little critique, but more recent reviews and comments have been very positive, with one describing it as a ''visual feast'' and others generally praising the aesthetics of the film and the performances of its main cast, especially that of Stamp. I for one saw the clips shown on the Mark Cousins show which looked incredible and later watched the when it became available and that was quite something. However, to reiterate, the version that is currently downloadable online is not the entire, unabridged, uncut film and there are many others apart from myself who want to see the film for the first time in its entirety.

Those who attended the Terence Stamp Season at BFI Southbank felt honoured to have seen a 25-minute version of his legendary Hu-Man and I felt privileged to have seen the 86-minute French television cut when that was discovered, but these versions further validate the main objective of this petition - to remaster and restore the entire 105-minute film. It would be a crime in a sense if this wasn't done because apart from the film's cult status, Stamp actually risked his life to make it and this alone commands an official home video release of the unabridged film. At the time of the showing of the short version, the existing print of the film was reportedly quite faded and in danger of decaying even further which makes a restoration critical. Therefore, I ask all you film fans and buffs out there who are interested in this petition to sign and share it with others because if it becomes successful, it could lead to a remastered, restored and uncut home video release of this rare cinematic gem.


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