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Jean Marc Munerelle

144 heures, course contre la nuit

2015, 36 mn

Production Didier Zyserman

144 heures, course contre la nuit is a film about the world records of distances covered on treadmills  by Pierre-Michaël Micaletti. In less than a year, Pierre-Michaël Micaletti travels more than three times the distance of 800 kilometers running in less than six days, i.e., 144 hours. The treadmill is a surface which permits a scientific measurement of one’s waking and sleeping state using sensors connected to computers. During his test, Pierre-Michaël Micaletti alternates running, walking and short naps of less than 20 minutes.

Emerging from these short naps, at the moment of this conditioned awakening, the runner remains suspended for many long seconds on the threshold of consciousness. Accordingly, on the fourth day, he admits that he had thought for a moment that he was in the midst of the previous race, which took place six months earlier in Antibes. Memories of earlier races mingle with the present race, and come together in one and the same movement.  At the hardest moments, time and space escape without warning, and are immediately replaced by memories. These sensations, which are not fleeting, can be read at length in the runner’s staring gaze. 

This project came to me without me looking for it.  It seemed to me that, in the duality between wakefulness and slumber, questions were raised that are at once private but also universal:  consciousness/unconsciousness, dream/reality… In addition I found in-vivo notions that were present in previous projects:  performance – media – body.  In the end, through its duration and through the organization that it presupposes, the race is a sort of scripting just like a football match which lasts 90 minutes, without us knowing what the end will be.

In the same way, the scientific instruments which surround “artists of static movement” are a cladding, a scenography, an animation. These artifices are used to support the runners, and these runners train the whole group. 

When I filmed the first race, I did not know that the project would take on this form, or that the final editing would resemble this dichotomous journey between images of periods that are so different in nature. To start with, everything took place in a house in the country. I decided to film in a rationalist way, night and day, in two-hour segments, because the camera’s cards had to be emptied after two hours of filming. I produced a rough assembly and I tried to make it a report-like document which a physiologist could analyze:  seeing the strides, seeing the signs of tiredness, and losing weight…  and revealing the state of clear-sightedness.


When the race at La Villette, with all its stage and media arrangement, was set up six months later, it then seemed obvious that there was an opportunity to be seized to finally make a documentary which, in its narrative, would juggle with the two visual and acoustic worlds, in order to create a rhythm, an expectation, and a mysterious feeling of here and elsewhere, amplified by the “space-time atmosphere of the geodic architecture”, the clothing of the runners, and the soaring music. 

In this second race, I have not in fact filmed the same things, I was not interested in the circus act, but rather in the caravan.  What had struck me in the first race was the empathy of visitors, entourages, and friends, in a word, everybody, towards these runners setting out for 144 hours. The human phenomenon, the one which consists in seeing oneself in the other, was intensely revealed in the presence of the runners. So the second filming was intended as a counterpart to the first race.  Jean-Marc Munerelle

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