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Gomes and the portrait of a restless country

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- The first volume of the Arabian Nights trilogy opens in Portugal today

Gomes and the portrait of a restless country
Arabian Nights: The Restless One by Miguel Gomes

Leonel Vieira’s The Courtyard of the Ballads [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, which premiered in late July, might have become the most-seen Portuguese film ever (read more), but it is Miguel GomesArabian Nights that steals the show as the most anticipated and talked-about Portuguese movie of 2015. The Restless One [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Miguel Gomes
film profile
]
– the first volume of the Arabian Nights trilogy – is opening today in 13 theatres, including in multiplexes, all across the country: this is an unusually significant number of screens for an auteur-driven feature in a small country such as Portugal.

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The public’s curiosity has been piqued since May, when the film was first selected for Cannes. Shrugging off the disappointment of not being shown in competition, Arabian Nights turned itself into the “film event” of the Directors’ Fortnight, where it seduced international audiences as well as the most selective and hard-to-please specialist press from around the world. After the splash they made at Cannes, the three volumes have already premiered in France (the third volume, The Enchanted One [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miguel Gomes
film profile
]
, opened yesterday – read more). The film also won the top prize at the Sydney Film Festival and is now ready to wing its way to the Toronto International Film Festival, where it will be shown as part of the Wavelengths section.

An unusually ambitious project for the size and scale of Portugal’s film industry, Arabian Nights was shot over one year, based on true stories that a group of journalists selected and presented each week to Gomes and his screenwriters. Then, those news reports were combined with fictional tales, resulting in an exciting blend of documentary and socio-political satire on the way Portuguese people (ranging from politicians to unknown citizens) are dealing with the financial crisis and with the devastating consequences of austerity policies.

Although the second and third instalments will not open until 24 September and 1 October, this weekend – exceptionally – the Cinema Ideal in Lisbon is programming the three films as special screenings, introduced by Gomes himself.

Expectations are high for the box-office results of Arabian Nights. Gomes’ previous feature, Tabu [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Miguel Gomes
interview: Miguel Gomes
festival scope
film profile
]
, which was released in 2013, attracted nearly 24,000 moviegoers.

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