Distant Constellation

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    Distant Constellation

    Directed by

    USA, Turkey, Netherlands

    2017

    82 min

    • French
    • English
    • Turkish

    Documentary

    This haunted reverie drops us inside an Istanbul retirement home, where the battle-scarred residents bask in the camera’s attention. A creaky- voiced woman confides her personal account of the Armenian genocide. A sweetly deluded pianist performs a composition before confessing his love. A blind photographer fiddles with his flash as he points his own camera back at us. Shevaun Mizrahi’s playful, immaculately controlled film finds hypnotizing rhythms in the residents’ limbo-like state. Meanwhile, outside, ominous construction equipment transforms the land.

    Awards

    • Jury’s Special Mention Award - Locarno IFF
    • FIPRESCI Prize - Viennale
    • New Waves Non Fiction Award - Sevilla EFF
    • Best Picture Prize - Jeonju IFF

    Festivals

    Labels & Line Ups

    Credits

    Cinematography
    Shevaun Mizrahi
    Editing
    Shevaun Mizrahi
    Shelly Grizim

    Director's Statement

    I was inspired by the sci-fi anthropology of Chris Marker (“Sans Soleil”) and the visual poetry of Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa (“Colossal Youth”) and their use of visual storytelling and open narrative structures. The filming took place during my annual visits to see my family in Turkey. While my mother is American, my father was born and lives in Istanbul. He grew up in a small Jewish community and like the subjects of this film is a minority in Istanbul. The retirement home where this film takes place is located in the neighborhood where he grew up and represents a culture and time that is disappearing. I did both camera work and sound myself as a one-woman crew, which helped preserve the intimacy between myself, the space and the subjects. Although the characters of “Distant Constellation” lived fascinating and dramatic lives, we’ve decided not to provide more biographical or historical context. Our intention is to create a very intimate and self-contained world and an immersive experience.

    Production
    GRIZIM-BUGA-MIZRAHI
    Distributor
    USA-CANADA DISTRIBUTION: GRASSHOPPER FILM
    Distributor
    UK-IRELAND DISTRIBUTION: ICA FILMS
    Distributor
    TURKEY DISTRIBUTION: BASKA SINEMA
    Sales
    SOCIETE ACEPHALE
    Distributor
    MEXICAN DISTRIBUTION: LA OLA CINE

    Press

    A beautiful portrait... Soulful, humorous, visually delicate... One of the more exciting achievements in nonfiction cinema in recent memory.

    Chris O'Falt, IndieWire

    Funny, startling and touching... Dreamlike... an unusually warm, complex and illuminating picture.

    Hannah McGill, Sight & Sound

    A bracingly rigorous and visceral experience

    Vadim Rizov, Filmmaker Magazine

    A dazzling study of age and memory.

    Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

    Holistically measured in both form and content, speaks to Mizrahi’s preternatural command and commendably empathetic worldview.

    Jordan Cronk, Sight & Sound

    A quiet jam... Hope springs eternal.

    John Defore, Hollywood Reporter

    Intriguing, poignant and surprisingly gripping… Mizrahi consistently conveys the impression of a film that’s alive to the towering issue of human transience... Very Samuel Beckett.

    Kevin Maher, The Times

    Mizrahi’s dream-like documentary, shot in an Istanbul retirement home, beautifully captures the residents’ musings on life.

    Cath Clarke, The Guardian

    Shevaun Mizrahi’s documentary is a master class in the art of the portrait.

    Diego Semerene, Slant Magazine

    A rich cinematic experience

    Mark Asch, Little White Lies

    Extraordinarily attentive

    Eric Hynes, Film Comment

    An evocative, often touching documentary about the journey between being young and old that will surely delight and inspire audiences.

    Max Havey, Vox

    As grounded and otherworldly as cinema can ever hope to be.

    Tara Judah, Desistfilm

    Shevaun Mizrahi

    Shevaun Mizrahi

    I’m interested in exploring time and memory using experimental approaches ranging from ethnography to magical realism.

    Turkish-American director and cinematographer Shevaun Mizrahi received her M.F.A. from the Graduate Film Program at NYU. Her debut documentary DISTANT CONSTELLATION premiered at Locarno Festival 2017 winning the Jury Special Mention Award. Shevaun shot and directed DISTANT CONSTELLATION as a one-woman crew over a 6 year period. The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and included in Film Comment’s “Best Undistributed Films of 2017.” For many years, Shevaun worked as an assistant to cinematographer Ed Lachman. In 2015, she was selected by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film and prior to that she was a Marcie Bloom Fellow in Film, via Sony Pictures Classics. DISTANT CONSTELLATION has been screened at BFI London Film Festival, IDFA, Jeonju International Film Festival (Best Picture Prize), the Viennale (FIPRESCI Critics Prize), Seville European Film Festival (New Waves Non-Fiction Award), Göteborg Film Festival and BAMcinemaFest, among other venues. Her work has been supported by the IFP Documentary Lab & Forum, !f Istanbul DocLab, the True/False Catapult Lab, and the Turkish New Film Fund. Shevaun has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2018.