By Alice King
Updated July 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ararat, Armenian-Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s layered take on the historically ignored 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Turks, is as concerned with how to think about the horror as it is with the horror itself. By portraying the making of a film-within-a-film about the atrocities, Egoyan can also focus on the people shooting the picture, including a production assistant (David Alpay) who comes to terms with his heritage while detained by a customs inspector (Christopher Plummer) debating whether to unseal — and thereby ruin — his cans of footage. If its structure seems sometimes contrived, ”Ararat” does offer an elegant approach to the problem of telling history. EXTRAS A lyrical short film and a making-of doc amplify Egoyan’s commitment to the project.