Image Credit: Lisha Riabinina

Michelle Martin


This article examines how strategies of delay in Miguel Gomes’ three volume film Arabian Nights (2015) map temporal shifts provoked by the Portuguese debt crisis and austerity measures. Drawing from Lutz Koepnick’s elaboration on slowness as contemporary aesthetic,  Arabian Nights is studied not as slow cinema but as cinema that slows. Rather than focus on the austere durational forms privileged in recent studies of ‘slow cinema’, slowing is posited as an accumulation of narrative which reveals a manifold present. By spinning fantasy, fiction, fact and allegory into a set of nested narratives that begin to seep into one another, Gomes disorganizes linear time to allow for the coexistence of heterogeneous temporalities and consequently an intensified experience of contemporaneity.

Stories That Slow: Narrative Abundance and Austerity in Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights

Originally contracted to direct a three-and-a-half-hour film, Portuguese director Miguel Gomes ultimately delivered As mil e uma noites or Arabian Nights (2015), a three-volume, 382-minute film drawing its narrative structure from its eponymous literary predecessor and its content from a fictionalized selection of events from contemporary Portugal. The film takes up Portugal’s debt crisis and the implementation of austerity measures through storytelling. As part of the preproduction team, three journalists searched the country for exceptional and bizarre local stories. Gomes and his writers then selected from the strange and often tragic accounts and transformed them into fictions, to be recounted by Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate) and performed by both professional and non-professional actors. What I will argue emerges is a film that traces reality for people living under austerity through its manifoldness: its fictions, its fantasies, its sad and disheartening truths. In freewheeling narratives that shift from documentary, to parable, to costume drama, and even to musical, Nights maps the temporal shift that the Portuguese debt crisis and austerity measures provoked through a particular kind of slowness. The film is not simply slow but rather it slows, using an abundance of porous narratives as a strategy of delay in the face of uncertainty.

In 2011, following Greece and Ireland, Portugal accepted an international aid package from the International Monetary Fund, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Facility totaling 78 billion euros. In exchange, Portugal submitted to further austerity measures, including tax increases and cuts to social security, which effectively increased the gap between the wealthy and the poor and saw unemployment soar to record levels. On a macro level, the debt crisis demonstrated the instability of European markets and the power of credit rating analysts, bond traders, and speculators in toppling governments. [1] Beyond Portugal, the effects on the Portuguese people have garnered less attention. The crisis marked drastic changes for people who lost their savings, their jobs, and their livelihoods.

With unemployment and financial insecurity comes the collapse of everyday organizing structures. Time, structured through the routines of the workday, and the stability of the future provided by pension and a social safety net are thrown into disarray by economic crisis. [2] The experience of crisis and austerity compromises the fabric of daily life, and for those affected, the very temporality of thought is altered, as linear organizing structures yield to uncertainty. [3] As Knight and Stewart note, for Europeans living in the new austerity the perception of time is put into flux: “the past, present, and future are all momentarily swimming together as the present undergoes successive re-evaluations.” [4] The co-presence of temporalities belonging to the past, present and future calls to mind constructions of the contemporary present which is “increasingly characterized by a coming together of different but equally ‘present’ temporalities or ‘times’, a temporal unity in disjunction, or a disjunctive unity of present times”. [5] The loss of historicity and awareness of the coexistence of multiple temporalities experienced through crises reflects what I will argue is an experience of intensified contemporaneity. While precarious existence is situated on the cusp of crisis, people living precariously labour toward a future that appears at least, at the moment, not to be foreclosed. Once imposed, austerity measures demand a renegotiation of what was once a given: one’s social standing can easily erode as the task of meeting basic needs like shelter, food and healthcare becomes more and more difficult. In the first volume of Gomes’ film, we hear the real testimony of four people suffering from socio-economic effects of unemployment in the context of austerity. After 14 years as a sales director for a company, a man in his fifties is laid off and offered an insultingly paltry severance package which he disputes and in so doing gets dragged into a long court case. The savings he had planned to use to fund a project of his own are spent once a loan he co-signed with his ex-wife must be settled. He hands his apartment over to the bank as he can no longer pay the mortgage and moves back in with his parents. He sends out resume after resume—nearly 1500 altogether—but cannot find a job. A couple shares how they have struggled to make ends meet after the ceramic factory they worked at went bankrupt and as both unemployment benefits and food bank rations continue to be cut back. Another man details how he was prescribed more and more medication for his anxiety, insomnia and depression but to no avail. Emphatically he concludes that he is not sick but that this deep sadness stems from his unemployment.

Slowness as a Contemporary Aesthetic

The lived experience of economic slowness stands in sharp contrast to the slowness celebrated by various grassroots movements like ‘slow food’, ‘slow fashion’ or ‘slow media,’ which extoll the virtues of deceleration as a remedy for the breakneck pace of late capitalism. In On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary, Kopenick is careful to question an all-encompassing embrace of slowness, noting that nobody in their right mind would advocate for the kind of economic slowness that has plagued Mediterranean Europe. [6] To be considered critically viable, slowness requires further qualification. For Koepnick, slowness is a means to reveal the complexity of our contemporary condition. [7] It is an aesthetic strategy that enables an experience of the manifoldness of contemporaneity: its multiple, disjunctive temporalities. [8] Slowness is not a refusal of the present, filled with nostalgic longing, but rather an invitation to reflect on the speed of the present and its effects on space, identity and sociability. [9]

Recently scholars have taken up an investigation of what has been termed ‘slow cinema.‘ French film critic Michel Ciment first used the term “cinema of slowness” in 2003 to describe the turn to stillness and contemplation in the work of directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Tsai Ming-liang, Souleymane Cissée and Aleksandr Sokurov. [10] Scholarly writing followed in 2008 with Matthew Flanagan’s essay “Towards an Aesthetic of Slow in Contemporary Cinema” and in 2014 with the publication of three books centered on slow cinema. [11] While there remains a lively scholarly debate on which films might be included under this new moniker, most of the contenders explore austere durational forms eschewing complicated narrative development. [12] The long take, made more accessible with the advent of digital cinema, prevails, and many slow films share a neo-Bazinian realist impulse. [13] Yet in privileging form, slow cinema lumps an incredibly diverse set of films together without really considering narrative or thematic content. For example, the films of Béla Tarr, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Kelly Reichardt are all considered slow cinema even though their films produce very distinct affects. In contrast to this dominant understanding, I wish to consider slowness beyond form, to look instead at processes of delay, of slowing, and in particular, how the accumulation of narrative invites viewers to experience the multiplicity of contemporary life. In Arabian Nights, Miguel Gomes takes up the temporality of austerity through a mix of fantasy, fiction, fact and allegory spun into a set of stories within stories, each of which seeps into the next. Through this narrative structure, Arabian Nights delays each story’s resolution in order to investigate the multiple temporalities felt through the experience of crisis. In drawing upon the structure of the classic Arabian Nights, Gomes finds a way to organize the manifoldness of crisis, disorganize linear time, and trouble the discreteness of each narrative.

The Many and the Multiples: Alf layla wa-layla, One Thousand and One Nights, or Arabian Nights

In its opening titles, each volume of Arabian Nights states “This film is not an adaptation of the book ARABIAN NIGHTS despite drawing on its structure.” Whether this claim rings true or not depends greatly on how one considers the history of One Thousand and One Nights or The Arabian Nights (Nights) and in particular, its various translations and appropriations by European writers. Nights is fundamentally heterogeneous; its study becomes an exploration of a broad family of texts rather than any individual text. [14] Indeed, the tale is multi-linear in both its history and its narrative structure. To use Grahame Weinbren’s description, it is “a multilinear ocean, or at least a great lake, of overlapping stories and stories-within-stories.” [15] As it is a collection of oral stories, the precise origins of A Thousand and One Nights is tricky to determine. The earliest written evidence of Scheherazade’s tales, discovered in 1948 in a rare early medieval Syrian document, proves Nights to be over 1,100 years old. [16] Tales originating from Persia’s Hazar Afsana—once translated and appropriated into Arabic—formed an early version of Alf layla wa- layla (A Thousand and One Nights). [17] Arabic tales were added and eventually the One Thousand and One Nights corpus included Turkish, Egyptian and even Indian stories. As part of oral and popular literature traditions in the Arabic world, Nights was not considered high literature, yet the collection’s impact continues to resonate and it has been considered a masterpiece in Arab countries. [18] Nights’ history in Europe started with Antoine Galland’s French translation in 1704. [19] Galland took great liberties with Nights, catering to European Orientalism and notions of the “exotic” East. As it circulated in Europe, Nights entered colonial politics and helped propagate the Romanticism attached to European ideas of the Orient. [20]

Beyond its place in the history of European orientalist fantasies [21], One Thousand and One Nights’ frame tale also offers parallels to life under austerity in Portugal. Like Scheherazade, the Portuguese people are at the mercy of irrational and cruel forces beyond their control. In One Thousand and One Nights, the king, after discovering his wife’s infidelity, marries a new bride each day and kills her the next morning in order to ensure she remains faithful. This practice soon becomes unsustainable as the king kills off nearly all eligible women. Enter Scheherazade, the Grand Vizier’s daughter, who intends to stave off her own death through storytelling. In contemporary Portugal, an unregulated economic system that allowed bond traders, credit analysts, and speculators to seal the country’s fate is revealed to be as unsustainable as the king’s daily marriages and murders. With accumulated debt lower than countries like Italy and a solid recovery even after the 2008 financial crisis, the downgrading of Portugal’s debt by Moody’s Investors Service seemed both groundless and severe. [22] Both the brides in One Thousand and One Nights and the modern Portuguese face crisis at the hands of a force that is at once cruel and absurd. For both Gomes and Scheherazade, the response is to delay, an extension of time that holds the thin hope that the powerful might come to their senses. Slowness here takes the form of narrative accumulation in which multiple spaces and times converge, emerge, and in Gomes’ trilogy, begin to transform one another. The nested narrative becomes a way into the contemporary experience in which a single linear narrative gives way to “competing temporal frameworks,” as Koepnick writes, “where time often seems to push and pull in various directions simultaneously.” [23] Disjunctive temporalities not only co-exist but begin to bleed into one another. Narration slips from one narrator to the next yet the boundaries between each storyline, each narration remain porous. In Volume One: The Restless One, we initially are offered narration in the form of the voiceover from interviews with shipyard workers and the wasp exterminator. With the introduction of the film director, another layer of narration is added and yet another as his creative crisis leads him to tell the story of Scheherazade. Within Scheherazade’s tales themselves new narrators emerge. For example, a cockerel tells an account of a love triangle that pushes a jealous teenager to arson. In Scheherazade’s tale “The Swim of the Magnificents”, Crista Alfaiate—the actor playing Scheherazade—plays Maria, a woman with a formidable Mohawk haircut, who helps organize the New Year’s Day swim in the ocean to lift the spirits of the unemployed. The double casting of actors, especially of Gomes and Alfaiate who both act as narrators, helps to push the boundaries of each narrative, troubling the distinctions between them. As I will discuss in more detail, in Volume 3: The Enchanted One, Scheherazade begins to embody the doubt and hopelessness of the tales she is telling. The bleakness of life under austerity in Portugal seeps from the enframed to the frame, presenting narrative temporalities as plastic and permeable. The uncertainty of which events, which characters, which affects belong to which story line reflects the shifting, porous relationship between myth, fantasy and the “sad and stupid reality” of life under austerity. [24]

Uncertainty also emerges both in the literary and Gomes’ Nights in the form of the cliffhanger. Scheherazade stops telling her stories as dawn breaks, often at a point of suspense or intrigue. The anticipation created by this waiting guarantees that Scheherazade will live another day. To function properly, the cliffhanger requires a level of uncertainty in order to garner interest. Yet for those affected by crisis and austerity, the rupture of linear time throws the future into uncertainty—a most uncomfortable cliffhanger. The effect in Gomes’ Nights is less sharp suspense and more lingering anxiety.

The Work of the Film Director, of the Shipyard Workers and of the Wasp Exterminator

In the film’s first minutes, the most pressing crisis is revealed to be an artistic one. Unable to connect contemporaneous events occurring in the same town—the closing of a shipyard and a man working to exterminate a particularly hostile breed of wasps—the film’s director (played by Gomes himself) flees the set and throws the production into uncertainty. About four minutes into Volume One: The Restless One, we hear Gomes in a voiceover as a blurry, blown-out image flits and shakes before focusing on the melancholy director. As the camera operator stops down, the scenes around Gomes is revealed. He sits at a small table in front of large windows that expand the space of the frame to include the crew that is setting up in front of him. A boom pole rests on a chair to his left, and he looks off into the distance, his hand resting against his cheek, before looking down at what appears to be a map. Gomes’ voiceover describes his director’s block as he mopes onscreen, drawing his hood up and crossing his arms. Finally, he slowly gets up, and we see him flee the set through the reflection in the glass. When we next see Gomes, he is buried up to his neck in the sand alongside two other crew members. At the mercy of his now murderous crew, Gomes pleads for his life by offering the story of Scheherazade.

Gomes often employs metafiction to create a friction between two co-existing temporalities: the time of the film’s production and the fictional narrative world set up in his film. As in Aquele querido mês de agosto or Our Beloved Month of August (2008), Arabian Nights presents a final outcome that is contradicted in its diegesis. In Our Beloved Month of August, a teenager comes across Gomes’ documentary shoot and is told she can appear in the film if she manages to hit a target in a game being played by the crew. Although she disappears after missing, her presence in the final cut of the film playfully contradicts the diegetic information it offers, since she should not appear in the film at all. In Nights, Gomes as director bemoans his inability to link two concurrent events together. This is after we have seen footage of both the shipyard and the wasp extermination combined in a loose montage of voice over and footage from both. The film opens with a traveling shot across the docks of the shipyard cut with audio from interviews with who we assume are shipyard workers. Gradually this is intercut with audio of the wasp exterminator and footage of him working with firefighters to dramatically eradicate the persistent wasps by torching their nests. While intercutting is certainly not a new technique in representing concurrent events in film, by first showing a successful outcome—a film that presents both the shipyard workers and the wasp exterminator—and then showing its moment of crisis, Gomes manages to untether time from its linearity. We are presented with a future outcome, the completed film, while its impossibility is espoused in the diegesis. The director’s crisis shapes the form of the film: we see not only the co-temporaneous events of the shipyard and the wasp exterminator but also those of the past that will lead to the story of Scheherazade and a further accumulation of narrative and consequently disjunctive temporalities.

The Tears of the Judge

The slowness of an accumulation of narrative is most evident in “The Tears of the Judge,” one of the tales in Volume Two: The Desolate One. In yet another nod to its literary predecessor, “The Tears of the Judge” has its own short frame tale. A woman calls her mother after losing her virginity while consummating her marriage. This accomplishes two things: first, it draws a parallel to the frame tale of One Thousand and One Nights wherein the king marries a virgin bride each night and second, it establishes the character of the mother who is also the judge. She is not only overbearing and quite intimately involved in her daughter’s sex life but she also demonstrates an authorial self-assuredness that will begin to degrade as the tale wears on. She instructs her daughter on how to bake a cake for her new husband before finishing the call [25] and returning to the case over which she is presiding. The case being tried involves tenants selling their landlord’s furniture in an effort to pay off a debt they incurred. As what initially seems to be a straightforward case unfolds, a series of characters become involved, including a genie who makes the landlord say offensive things to his tenants and call the emergency line just to watch the ambulance go by, a talking fugitive cow, a sad and ancient olive tree, a woman fired for staring at stolen pavement stones for five hours straight at work, the miserly senior technical manager of the Social Services, who impersonates a homeless man on TV for money, and “furious machete man,” amongst others. In an attempt to receive testimony related to the original case, the judge must hear the tales of each character in what becomes, as she says, a “long rosary of tragedies.” The increasingly absurd unfolding story creates such an accumulation of narrative that it delays the administration of justice indefinitely. Either the frustration or the sadness of the tales brings the judge to tears, and the story ends without any verdict in the case. We return to the frame tale to see that the daughter has likewise given up, in this case, on her baking project.

Scheherazade (On the 515th Day of Narrating Stories to the King)

The narrative coherence of Gomes’ Arabian Nights seems to give way at the beginning of Volume Three: The Enchanted One. We have, for the most part, experienced the narrative through Scheherazade’s recounting of different tales (which we assume is being mediated by Gomes, as the director buried up to his neck in sand). In Volume Three, Scheherazade begins to doubt that she will be able to continue to entertain the king with her tales, and consequently she starts to believe she will be executed. Scheherazade experiences a crisis of her own and escapes her palace in search of some entertainment for herself. In this nested story, the film delays by derailing its own narrative structure, as its own narrator experiences a kind of creative crisis. The film uses several forms to suggest the co-existence of multiple temporalities.

While brief titles have been used to narrate details from Scheherazade’s life in the two previous volumes, in Volume Three these titles begin to start telling tales of their own, as the narrator begins to doubt her ability to keep the king entertained. In this episode, the titles begin with “In the Antiquity of Time” and either present either future events or some narrative information of which Scheherazade is ignorant. For example, one title announces that while she knows of the Portuguese immigrants that fled to Baghdad, she will never encounter them. Another title tells us about Paddleman whose exceptional virility remains unknown to Scheherazade despite a brief dalliance. By moving beyond the body of knowledge and experience of the narrator, the narrative depth of Nights expands and diverges, further slowing any narrative expediency. Not only does Nights draw from Scheherazade’s extensive bank of tales, it begins to explore what she does not know or will not experience. To a certain extent, the beginning of Volume Three mirrors that of Volume One as both Gomes the director and Scheherazade face similar doubts—yet this parallel is troubled by the fact that Miguel Gomes appears as another character in this story, one of Scheherazade’s manservants. The discrete distinctions between characters and between times fall away to reveal how narrative elements combine and seep into one another, as the boundaries between each nested narrative and even the diegetic and non-diegetic become entangled.

Non-diegetic music, in particular the song “Perfidia [26],” recurs at several points in all three volumes. In Volume Three, it is first heard over an underwater traveling shot with Scheherazade narrating a letter to her father in voice over. But then what we understand to be two distinct sound elements—the song is non-diegetic music, the voiceover is non-sync, diegetic sound—intertwine, when Scheherazade sings “Perfidia” herself, accompanied by Paddleman and an unnamed guitarist she meets during her quest for entertainment. Again in this sequence, Nights complicates the distinctions between time and space. After refusing to procreate with Paddleman, Scheherazade leaves him. In a split screen we see Paddleman playing drums as Scheherazade makes her way to the top of a bluff along the beach, where the unnamed guitarist appears. The sound of Paddleman’s drums continues without his onscreen presence as “Perfidia” becomes part of the diegesis through Scheherazade’s singing. In another sequence, Scheherazade comes across a group of thieves. As they drink and celebrate, black and white footage of a live performance of “Samba Da Minha Terra” by Novos Baianos is layered on shots of Scheherazade and the bandits through cross dissolves and double exposure. Transposed into the world of Scheherazade, the footage and music further complicate the boundaries and diegetic coherence of the film. Gomes’ liberal anachronism increases in intensity here as temporalities coalesce and begin to permeate one another.

Slowing in this film takes the form of the digression. Scheherazade quits her narrative duties to go on an adventure of her own and in so doing, expands the narrative scope. The titles that begin with “In the Antiquity of Time” not only embellish the film’s fantastical anachronisms but also pile on more narrative information, more threads to follow. We are introduced through the titles to Portuguese immigrants who arrive in Baghdad fleeing the misery of life in Portugal; Lionel Franc, an expert diver in love with Scheherazade, though she will never know it; and of course Paddleman, who has fathered 200 children. At this point, Scheherazade’s flight has thrown the film’s narrative structure into uncertainty. Her eventual return to the king will lead to the very long tale “The Inebriating Chorus of Chaffinches,” but the film never explicitly states whether Scheherazade manages to reform the king through her stories. Gomes‘ Nights simply ends with the story of the chaffinches.


By mapping the temporal shifts provoked by austerity, Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights manages to relate slowness not to minimal, austere forms but to an abundance of ever-shifting narratives whose porosity and whose intermingling suggest that both fact and fantasy are part of understanding the lived reality of life under austerity. The sad facts of unemployment and of deep unhappiness are intwined with the absurdity of speculative economies and of the logic of austerity. Through an ever-expanding, increasingly amorphous narrative structure, Gomes untethers time from its linearity and in so doing, creates an unexpected kind of solidarity between characters, places, and times. By refusing to offer any clear culmination or narrative fulfillment and simply leaving off at the end of one tale, Gomes’ Nights offers little in the way of hope for Portugal’s beleaguered. Yet in offering such a rich set of stories that contemplate the consequences of austerity, one finds a way not only to pass time but also to hope that this time will pass.


[1] Robert M Fishman, “Portugal’s Unnecessary Bail Out,” New York Times (New York: New York), April 12, 2011.

[2] Daniel M.Knight and Charles Stewart, “Ethnographies of Austerity: Temporality, Crisis, Affect in Southern Europe,” History and Anthropology 27 no. 1 (2016) : 4.

[3] Ibid., 1.

[4] Ibid., 3.

[5] Peter Osbourne, Anywhere or Not At All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art. (Brooklyn: Verso, 2013), 47.

[6] Lutz Koepnick, On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 7.

[7] Daniel M. Knight and Charles Stewart, “Ethnographies of Austerity: Temporality, Crisis, Affect in Southern Europe.” History and Anthropology 27 no. 1 (2016), 3.

[8] Lutz Koepnick, On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 196.

[9] Ibid., 3.

[10] Michel Ciment, “The State of Cinema” in Unspoken Cinema ( blog), December 13, 2016 (4:36pm), ciment.html.

[11] Matthew Flanagan, “Toward an Aesthetic of Slow in Contemporary Cinema” 16:9 6, no. 9 (2008), accessed December 11, 2016,; Ira Jaffe, Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action (London: Wallflower, 2014);Tiago de Luca, Realism of the Senses in World Cinema: The Experience of Physical Reality (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014); Song Hwee Lim, Tsai Ming-liang and a Cinema of Slowness (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2014)

[12] Jorge de Luca and Nuno Barradas Jorge, Slow Cinema, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), 1.

[13] Ibid., 7.

[14] Eva Sallis, Sheherazade Through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the Thousand and One Nights. (New York: Routledge, 2010), 5.

[15] Grahame Weinbren, “Ocean, Database, Recut,” in Database Aesthetics, ed. Victoria Vesna (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 64.

[16] Dwight F. Reynolds, “A Thousand and One Nights: a history of the text and its reception.” in Arabic Literature in the Post-Classical Period, ed. Roger Allen and D.S. Richards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 270.

[17] Eva Sallis, Sheherazade Through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the Thousand and One Nights. (New York: Routledge, 2010), 2.

[18] Dwight F. Reynolds, “A Thousand and One Nights: a history of the text and its reception.” in Arabic Literature in the Post-Classical Period, ed. Roger Allen and D.S. Richards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 290

[19] Eva Sallis, Sheherazade Through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the Thousand and One Nights. (New York: Routledge, 2010), 3.

[20] Ibid., 3.

[21] The heterogeneity of Nights and its place as a product of orientalist fantasy in the European imaginary allow Gomes to tease out how crisis of austerity involve a process of reversal that is often wrapped up in colonial  fantasies. Life under crisis and austerity provokes a shift in how the past is considered, including imperial histories  in the form of nostalgic fantasies. Gomes’ fantasy is too bizarre and anachronistic to be escapist – contemporary politicians travel via camel, Scheherazade visits a modern day amusement park to see her father the Grand Vizier – yet whether it provides a compelling critique of neocolonialist fantasies is worthy of more debate.

See also Paulo De Medeiros, "Post-imperial Nostalgia and Miguel Gomes' Tabu." Interventions 18, no. 2, (2016).

[22] Robert M. Fishman, “Portugal’s Unnecessary Bail Out,” New York Times (New York: New York), April 12, 2011.

[23] Koepnick, Lutz. On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014, 3.

[24] See Lila Ellen Gray’s analysis of the Portuguese band Deolinda’s song “Parva que sou” in “Registering Protest: Voice, Precarity and Retun in Crisis Portugal.” History and Anthropology 27, no.1 (2016), 62.

[25] Curiously, while we see the daughter in her kitchen, the frequency of the judge’s voice is not altered as it would be on the phone which further complicates the diegetic and narrative structure of the film.

[26] Originally written by Alberto Dominguez, Nights contains renditions of “Perfidia” by Phyllis Billon, Los Panchos, Nat King Cole, and Glen Miller.


Ciment, Michel. “The State of Cinema” in Unspoken Cinema (blog), December 13, 2016 (4:36pm), ciment.html.

De Luca, Jorge, and Jorge, Nuno Barradas. Slow Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 2016.

De Medeiros, Paulo. "Post-imperial Nostalgia and Miguel Gomes' Tabu." Interventions 18, no. 2, 2016

Fishman, Robert M, “Portugal’s Unnecessary Bail Out.” New York Times (New York: New York), April 12, 2011.

Flanagan, Matthew, “Toward an Aesthetic of Slow in Contemporary Cinema.” 16:9 6, no. 9 (2008), accessed December 11, 2016,

Knight, Daniel M. and Charles Stewart. “Ethnographies of Austerity: Temporality, Crisis, Affect in Southern Europe.” History and Anthropology 27 no. 1 (2016): 1-18.

Koepnick, Lutz. On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

Osborne, Peter. Anywhere or Not At All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art. Brooklyn: Verso, 2013.

Reynolds, Dwight F., “A Thousand and One Nights: a history of the text and its reception.” In Arabic Literature in the Post-Classical Period, ed. Edited by Roger Allen and D.S. Richards, 270-291. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Sallis, Eva. Sheherazade Through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the Thousand and One Nights. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Weinbren, Grahame “Ocean, Database, Recut.” In Database Aesthetics, Edited by Victoria Vesna, 61-85. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.


Michelle Martin (b. amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton) is an arts educator and holds a Master’s of Arts degree in Comparative Media Arts from the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. She lives and works on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

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