In the current political climate regarding migrants in the United States and the world – this image can be a visual metaphor for the futility of walls(“fences”) and gives me hope for the future. We should be using our resources to build bridges – NOT walls!
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.
THE STORY OF OUR LIVES is a series of photographs of signs that when taken outside the context of their function (and sometimes location) have a dual purpose of telling our story of existence. In other words after we are gone and our culture no longer exists, how would others (or aliens) interpret our lives based on what the signs reveal – supposing aliens decoded and understand our language?
This latest image is a personal favorite: It is simply titled THE STORY OF OUR LIVES #95
This image as taken at a demolition site. I found this sign on what remained of a wall at the site. It’s a fascinating and wonderful little chapter in the story of our lives.
While smoking has been deemed as bad for our health and in some cases has been made illegal as a result – it is in a location that has been destroyed, demolished. The demolition had nothing to do with smoking. This is a perfect metaphor for our lives. Life is fragile and there is more than one thing that can disrupt, tear apart or destroy it. So often we focus on the wrong things. We go to great expense to make things like smoking, abortion, drugs, “assisted suicide” etc illegal. And while those things may destroy our lives as we know it – we actively pursue other methods of destruction – war, income inequality, denial of medical care etc. Is it better to deny a person’s choice of self-destruction in order to insure the destruction of many? That is what is happening in our culture and our world. It is seen in our immigration policies, how we deal with refugees, it is seen in our responses to foreign powers that we have deemed as enemies. It is seen in the laws we pass for our own people.
- Is it better to deny an abortion for a life that does not yet exist only to – after it is born – send that life to war to die?
- Is it better to keep that minimum wage so low in order to help corporations enrich themselves while people cannot afford health care?
- Is it better to deny the right for a person who has chosen to end their life only to ensure ongoing suffering and the slow destruction for that person and their families?
- Is it better to deny people safe harbor because you are afraid – only to have them die at the hands of their own governments?
What makes life so precious is that it is fragile. There are any number of things that can snuff it out in an instant without our help – disease, old age, the environment (poisonous plants, wild animals, accidents, etc)
Two things make life something worthwhile:
- It is limited – we are all mortal – we will all die at some point.
- Choice – we all are born with the ability to choose when and how we will die.
Now this may seem like something of an oversimplification but it is none-the-less true.