Artist JR, who has made his mark on so many places in New York City (from the Inside Out Project in Times Square, Fordham University and in the Bronx), to the 5 borough Walking New York, to the exhibit Unframed Ellis Island. In the latter exhibit, featuring the faces of immigrants who came through Ellis Island’s now abandoned hospital complex, JR also filmed a short narrative film entitled Ellis, starring Robert DeNiro. Filmed in the winter amidst falling snow, the film gives a sense to this place, in plain sight on Ellis Island today. This trailer provides a glimpse into this forthcoming film.
Ordinary visitors can also visit this place on hard hat tours, used as a a fundraising mechanism to rehabilitate the hospitals, once one of the most advanced healthcare facilities in the world. DeNiro, playing a character who went through the Ellis Island hospitals walks through old hospital rooms, down corridors and up staircases with the faces of immigrants surrounding him, sometimes completely covering a floor. Aerial shots show how close the complex is to the active portion of the island and how the place is positioned within New York City. DeNiro, in voice over says “There were all these millions of people who come through here and I see them all. People of every color, shape and size. And I think about all of those that made it, made it to some distance shore, when they come up the beach, or over a bridge or onto a road, they start to walk. And they start walking faster and faster. And they are running. They made it. They were at last, home.”
The film is written by Academy Award winner Eric Roth (screen writer for The Insider, Munich, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and JR is allowing free public screenings of the film between November 9th and 16th.