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Distant Constellation

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Distant Constellation

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One of the founding principles of the documentary genre involves filming far-off people or places, using the distance as a path along which to steer the narrative; Shevaun Mizrahi’s decision to take a seat next to the most eccentric occupants of an old people’s home in Istanbul could be interpreted in this way. But moving from the subject to the cinematic language used; from the very first glimpse at the framings and chromatic choices it’s clear how far removed the film is from standard practices, revealing a much more original composition. From a narrative and formal perspective, the filmed subjects are the ones who steer the mise-en-scène, at times by the force of their storytelling (from risqué tales to marriage proposals), at others for the insertion of techniques from sitcoms or pure fiction (surreal scenes, improvised sketches, repeated actions). So it happens that this “distant constellation” reveals an underlying reverberation able to illuminate with greater clarity our habitual horizon. One starts to think that perhaps the far-off star represents that large building in front that is under constant construction: introduced as an image of the looming future, the monolith that emits incomprehensible sounds becomes the backdrop for a science-fiction plot, with resistant humanity encircled by hostile space. It is thanks to this structure on two counterposed planes that the film turns into a reversed generational comedy, in which the retired old people give lessons in vitality and show a levity when it comes to life that the building site of the external world seems to have lost.

Carlo Chatrian
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