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The long haul.

Gerard Courant's 156-hour film Cinematon is made up of more than 2,300 segments, and it's still growing

Got six days to spare? Great. You've got time to catch all 156 hours of Gerard Courant's Cinematon.

Film fans in the UAE have been exposed to the ultimate test as Courant arrived in town to promote his silent French movie at the Gulf Film Festival.

The project has been running for more than 30 years, and represents Courant's original intent EoAC" to document the lives and thoughts of his artistic friends.

And thanks to Dubai "inspiring the director in him", the film just got a little longer.

Cinematon is made up of more than 2,300 segments, each lasting three minutes and 20 seconds. Each shot, the first of which he recorded in October 1977, features a person shot silently in a single take with a single camera.

The first segment, numbered 0, features the director himself followed by a number of big names from the film world, including Jean-Luc Godard and Terry Gilliam.

The first person Courant shot in Dubai was the Kuwaiti director and producer Abdullah Boushahri as well as Dubai International Film Festival artistic director Masoud Amr Allah Al Ali.

"I have met some very interesting people in Dubai. The scenes I've shot here are from 2351 to 2371 so far. It's endless."

Yet the endearing thing about Courant is he really doesn't care what people think. "People say it's not a film. They say I'm not directing. They ask who would ever watch it? That's not what it's about. It's a story which grew."

The director's favourite involves a seven-month-old baby.

"It shows the whole spectrum of human emotions," he said. In 1985, he filmed US screenwriter Samuel Fuller. "He lit his cigar and sat there smoking for three minutes, 25 seconds."

Some do absolutely nothing, including the actress Nicoletta Braschi, who sits like a statue.

Other highlights include Monty Python star Gilliam munching a 100 franc note at a seaside resort and fellow film director Ken Loach trying to cross a busy road.

Courant added: "It's a documentary, but also fiction.

Calling Cinematon a "film" doesn't seem quite right as it's more a collection of short films. Not that Courant cares, saying he never set out to get this far.

"When I began, I never imagined it would get this big," he said nonchalantly. "I started filming and it just went from there. It was a way of documenting things really. In the beginning, the idea was to film people who could one day become very famous."

But just this month it was reported Courant had been overtaken in the quest to direct the longest ever film after Modern Times Forever was screened in Helsinki for 240 hours.

Completely unfazed, Courant didn't have much to say. "It's done by a collective of directors, not one. But it's not and has never been a competition for me. I don't care. I do this for the love of it. That's all."

So when will he stop?

"Every day I wake up and tell myself to take a break. To stop thinking about the next person to be filmed. But it doesn't happen. I find myself meeting interesting people and the camera is rolling. Who knows if I'll ever stop."

In 2009 Cinematon screened for the first time in Avignon, France. As you can imagine, tickets didn't sell out.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Apr 19, 2011
Words:586
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