No Aladdin, no Ali Baba, no Sinbad the Sailor nor any of the other legendary characters whose stories Scheherazade used to entertain the sultan for one thousand and one nights. In Miguel Gomes' One Thousand and One Nights, the stories we will listen to are those of a Portugal in crisis.
The upcoming fourth feature by the Portuguese director (Tabu, 2012) will keep nothing but the concept and the structure of the classic Arab tales. As for the rest, Gomes and producer Luis Urbano adventured themselves into a peculiar creative process. Until August 2014, three journalists and an illustrator will be searching and posting on a website stories about the way people are facing the crisis and about what it means to live in a country under the Troika-control. Furthermore, people are also invited to share their experiences by e-mail. Some of these stories will later be turned into the screenplay of the One Thousand and One Nights.
According to Gomes, the genesis of the film comes from his incapacity to remain indifferent to the current situation of the country. “There is an enormous dramatic potential in what we are going through. Cinema is conflict and that is something which isn't lacking in Portugal nowadays.”
Scheherazade, to be played by Crista Alfaiate (the only cast member announced so far), might tell the sultan not only harsh stories but also delusional and excessive ones which might combine, Gomes says, “fiction and social criticism, flying carpets and strike actions; all dimensions which we tend to perceive as unrelated… But imagination and reality can't live without each other (and Scheherazade knows it better than anyone)”.
One Thousand and One Nights, an O Som e a Fúria production which benefits from the support of Germany's ZDF and France's ARTE, is expected to open in the spring of 2015. As for Redemption, Gomes' short-film recently shown in Venice and Toronto (article), it will have a theatrical distribution in November, as a complement to Salomé Lamas' documentary Terra de Ninguém.
Read more exclusive contents on cineuropa.org.