I love watching movies, but doing it continuously for over 200 hours seems like an impossible feat. But not for two Bolivian movie aficionados who recently won a national movie marathon contest and split a prize of $10,000.
Last year, Bolivia set a new world record for the longest movie marathon. Felipe Gonzalo Ticona managed to stay awake for 131 hours watching all kinds of different films, but because a Guinness representative wasn’t present on scene, his record wasn’t certified so the title remained in the possession of a certain Indian gentleman. But this year, Bolivian movie theater chain “Cine Center” was determined to snatch the title of longest ever movie marathon for their home country, so they announced another monumental film-watching event that would take place simultaneously in three of Bolivia’s largest cities: La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. The person who managed to beat all other participants and surpass the current record of 128 hours was guaranteed a prize of $10,000 and his name mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records. In total, over 1,400 film fans signed up for the chance to see dozens of films and win the attractive cash prize. At first, organizers decided to allow only people over 18 to enter the competition, but after receiving a considerable number of requests from younger movie buffs, they decided to allow teens as well, as long as they presented a signed authorization from their parents. Everyone had to pay a $14 entrance fee.
Bolivian movie marathon 2011 – Photo: EFE
The great Bolivian movie marathon kicked off on September 1, and had a pretty straightforward set of rules. Contestants had to watch movies of different genres, including action, comedy and drama for as long as they could, with 15 minute breaks between movies, and three half-hour breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cine Center also brought in a medical staff to evaluate participants’ physical state throughout the event, and anti-drug agents to prevent any kind of doping attempts.
Bolivian movie marathon 2011- Photo: La Paz Vanguardia
After a week of continuous movie-watching, only 9 contestants from the three Bolivian cities were still competing for the $10,000 prize. Others wanted to continue as well, but after careful medical examination, they were eliminated so not to put their lives at risk. “Now in the final stretch, the health of the participants comes first, that’s why we eliminate the contestants who can not continue”, said Ariel Rodrigues, marketing representative of Cine Center. One of the nine remaining participants said he only got this far thanks to fruit, coffee, energizers and eating zero heavy or greasy foods, while another admitted it was the craziest thing he has ever done. The previous record had already been beaten, but participants kept their eyes glued to the screens hoping to win the grand prize. On September 9, after 190 hours of watching dozens of films, just three people were left in the race, one in each of the three cities enrolled in the competition. But after 190 hours and 18 minutes, Alejandro Toro, from La Paz, voluntarily withdrew from the competition saying: “I voluntarily withdrew from the competition, not because I could not continue, but because, above all the things I value the things that can not be bought with money. I appreciate the love and support of my family and friends who were with me at all times.”
Bolivian movie marathon 2011 – Photo: Giannina Machicado/La Prensa
Finally, this morning the longest movie marathon in history ended after 200 hours, 30 minutes and 50 seconds. The last two people left in the race, Ronald Cuellar (Santa Cruz) and Huber Felipez (Cochabamba), agreed to call it a draw and split the $10,000 prize. On Wednesday they will be officially rewarded by the competition sponsors and their names will be featured in the Guinness Book of Records.