Gulf Film Festival 2011 - Cinématon by Gérard Courant

Experimental filmmaker Gérard Courant, who holds the world record for the longest film ever made, the 156-hour Cinématon, will be in the spotlight at this year's Gulf Film Festival on screens across Dubai Festival City, the venue of this year's festival.

Cinématon, made over 33 years and featuring short, silent self-portraits of more than 2,347 people from all walks of life - from filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard, Youssef Chahine, Ken Loach and Terry Gilliam to models, comedians, psychologists, historians, artists, academics and even children - all shot with a Super 8 camera in single takes.

The films not only provide a glimpse of Courant’s stylistic ingenuity, but also the breadth of the subjects he has explored. Each film is approximately 3 1/2 minutes long and if watched back to back, it will take you around 6 days to complete all 156 hrs.

Courant is one of the most prolific filmmakers of recent times, with more than 300 films to his credit (including Aditya, 24 Passions, She’s a Very Nice Lady, Shiva, Marilyn, Guy Lux, and Nuns and Rasage), he is also a master of conceptual and lyrical cinema. In addition to Cinématon, his work includes contemplative feature films, films made of still images and negative images, films that revisit a single event over 24 years.

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Festival Director of the Gulf Film Festival said,

The showcase of Courant’s films is intended to inspire emerging filmmakers to experiment with various media, styles and interpretations and find their own way. Courant and his body of work embody what the Gulf Film Festival is trying to achieve. His films are avant-garde; they defy conventional methods of filmmaking to create works that are in a league of their own. He is relentlessly devoted to his craft, investing time and energy into breaking new ground. He is a fine example for filmmakers trying to find their own voice, and we are delighted to welcome him to Dubai.” 

Needless to say, I am very, very, VERY excited about this and will try to watch as many as I can during this festival. As a taster, here are 10 clips I found online (my favourite is Terry Gilliam), you can see more here (the complete Cinématon list can be found in Gérard Courant's website). Watching these clips made me wonder what would I do if I had a camera in front of me for 3 minutes.