Filmathon-maker casts for cameos

The experimental French filmmaker Gérard Courant has been working on his 156-hour Cinématon project for 33 years.

Dubai // The longest film ever madeis to be screened as a work in progress at next month's Gulf Film Festival, with audiences invited to play cameo roles alongside some of the greatest directors in cinematic history.

The experimental French filmmaker Gerard Courant has been working on his 156-hour Cinématon project for 33 years, and will be gathering new material at the event in Dubai to further extend the running time.

The silent film consists of more than 2,300 segments, each lasting about three-and-a-half minutes and shot in a single take.

It includes directors such as Wim Wenders, Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, Terry Gilliam, Youssef Chahine and Joseph Losey, and even a seven-month-old baby. Extracts from this and some of Courant's 300 other works will be shown on video installations across the site, with visitors invited to record their own segments for inclusion.

"This is the first screening of Cinématon in the region, and we hope that the people of the UAE will make the most of this rare opportunity to see it and perhaps even participate in it," said the festival director, Masoud Amralla al Ali.

"It is a privilege for us to screen Cinématon. It is a labour of love, a record of life and, in some cases, an insider look at some of the most creative people in our industry.

"The structure he has created - three-and-a-half-minutes, a fixed frame, a single take, silent and the freedom to do whatever you please in that time - is much more challenging than it seems."

Mr al Ali said Courant, who started the project because he wanted to capture the thoughts of his artistic friends, was one of the most innovative filmmakers in the business.

"The subjects he chooses, his approaches, the way he looks at life through cinema - he has no equal. His eyes are like lenses. We can only hope his presence here will encourage more filmmakers to look beyond the accepted frontiers and think differently."

The fourth Gulf Film Festival will be held from April 14-20 at the InterContinental Hotel and Grand Cinemas at Dubai Festival City. Other attractions include a masterclass with the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. Screenings are free to all.