The film is currently available as a digital rent or purchase through Amazon.com and in iTunes. The soundtrack is also available in CD/LP and download direct through https://www.erasedtapes.com/store
Ellis (2015 film trailer)
In a time of unbridled protectionism and closed borders – this short film stands out and serves purpose to pin-prick a reconsidation of our fears and get in touch with the human story of hope and immigration. It is beautifully envisioned by the French writer/director/artist JR and features Robert DeNiro, who is from Italian immigrant heritage. DeNiro’s narration is both passionate, reflective, evocative and The film is billed as a “short film” – so don’t let the 14+ minute length dissuade you from the beauty it embraces. Just consider it a long-form music video.
Filmed on Ellis Island (next to the small island where the Statue of Liberty stands) with its abandoned buildings still intact. The artist JR has transformed the location with immigrant images (by both well-known and unknown photographers). That it was filmed in winter perhaps best illuminates the difficulty immigrants face in their life-altering decision to leave everything behind and relocate to build lives elsewhere.
The score is by French music and video artist, Woodkid and German electronica and neo-classical composer/performer Nils Frahm. The score is a perfect complement to the images and spoken word weaving into the fabric of the film a beautiful emotional context that enhances the viewing experience. While some soundtracks aggressively drive the story (think of moments in Star Wars) – the best soundtracks, like this one, provide an addition supportive element that buoyantly allows the story to flow in the current of its timeline.
It makes me think that while some people may come to harm us – they are the minority. We need to re-open our borders for the majority in response to the purity of journey. Because an immigrants journey IS the American journey. It cannot be separated. The fears by those who oppose immigration of crime, terrorism, disease, the perceived unfair competition and the general “unknown do NOT cease to exist when borders are closed. Problems still exist whether borders are closed, or not, and can be dealt with in a humane way.
So, whether you are opposed to all immigration, selected immigration or in favor of open borders to welcome all races, genders, ages, beliefs regardless of income and social status – then let this film inspire thought, questions and lead you to explore all possible answers.
Immigration is about people, not things. The people who emmigrate are taking a greater risk than those they will meet at their point of destination.
Little did I know in 2012 – when I took this photo of some graffiti on a wall – how relevant it would be only 5 years later in T-rumpworld – where borders are being shuttered and talk of walls being built. East Vs. West and North Vs. South. The McCarthy era has returned with a vengeance – where suspicion breeds fear and hatred.
I look forward to when walls come down and borders are opened – it will happen eventually no matter how hard you fight it – history has ALWAYS proven that walls come down… so why bother to build? Couldn’t better things be done with the money?