JR, an up-and-coming filmmaker and photographer has surprised us again. He is currently filming in the eerie abandoned hospital on Ellis Island, which hasn’t been open to the public for filming in over 60 years.
The jarring film called ELLIS and will star the beloved actor Robert DeNiro. It will take viewers on a fourteen minute walk lead by DeNiro through the empty hospital (with a voiceover written by Oscar winner Eric Roth). We listen to his thought process as he reacts to this particular environment. If millions of people have passed through Ellis Island then what am I? It is a moment in which he realizes that he in some way or another a product of Ellis Island. He is perplexed, and overwhelmed by the journey that he knows many of the immigrants had to take through Ellis Island.
The installation in the film “Unframed-Ellis Island,” was also created by JR. The installation is made to re-enact how the space would have looked back in the early 1900’s. Scattered about the hospital are paintings of doctors working on patients, nurses meant to be conversing, and immigrants looking out windows searching for a new found hope.
The original hospital was built in 1902. It was a integral part of the Ellis Island journey, as immigrants from all over the world passed through to be examined in hopes of being administered into America. The hospital held 750 people, including specific rooms for people with diagnosed “psychopathic,” disorders and contagious diseases; as well as a laboratory and morgue.
If you were in the downtown area within the past couple of days, you may have walked past a mural of the faces of many immigrants. This mural is to reflect the film, which will be featured at a pop-up exhibition site located at 130 Orchard street, just above Delancy Street, the LES. The exhibition will run from Wednesday November 4th through-Sunday November 8th. It is free and open to the public from 12pm-6pm.
Don’t worry, if you can’t make the exhibition, JR is offering to send out the film to those who are interested. All you have to do is fill out this form here.
-by Samantha Rice