Distant Constellation focuses on a Turkish assisted living facility, whose barren halls visualize the tragic loneliness afflicting the residents, members of a forgotten generation whose suffering seems irrelevant to a country that is trying to rebuild itself. The elderly Turkish residents of the facility can never forget the horrors that they witnessed during the Armenian Genocide, and director Shevaun Mizrahi allows her subjects free-range on what they wish to discuss, allowing them agency: some delve into their past lives as womanizers (one subject suggests marrying Mizrahi on the spot to combat his loneliness), while two older men bicker in a leisurely-moving elevator over the existence of aliens. Another woman explores the repressed memory of watching their village burn in front of her as a child, and a man expounds on his life as a photographer who has lost his eyesight, and becomes forced to let go of the possession he once loved.
It’s whenever the film shifts its focus away from its subjects that its more didactic tendencies take over — particularly evident in the contrast it establishes between the old assisted living facility and a new development being built, which loses its potency due to how many times the image is returned to. Distant Constellation is at its best and most beautiful when it remains generous towards its human subjects, granting them space to tell their stories — so they do not become lost and forgotten to history.
Published as part of BAMcinemaFest 2018 | Dispatch 2.