Film Review: Distant Constellation

With the rapid pace of progress in science, technology and medicine, along with the absence of any recent major wars, life expectancy is steadily rising around the world. It’s now not unusual for people to live to one hundred, but longer lifespans bring their own problems. Governments have yet to come up with a way to address this development but it’s increasingly common for the elderly to live in residential homes. It’s one such establishment in Istanbul which provides the setting for Shevaun Mizrahi’s first feature Distant Constellation.

During her annual visits to see her family in the Turkish capital, Mizrahi began filming the residents at a local retirement home where she volunteered. Like her father, the occupants are members of minority groups. Inspired by the film-making of Chris Marker and Pedro Costa, she employs a loose narrative structure which allows her subjects the space to tell their stories. She uses her camera to capture a strange and experimental playground of the imagination.

Distant Constellation is a container for memories. Of past atrocities. Of love and loss. A blind photographer desperate to capture the present. A romantic pianist with a flourish or a survivor of the Armenian genocide. We’re exposed to a strange world of misfits, mavericks and charlatans. The power of Distant Constellation is not what it tells you. It’s what you observe. It’s a brave decision to make for a debut, but Shevaun Mizrahi pulls it off with aplomb.

Distant Constellation is screening at the ICA London from 17 August.

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