RELEASE DATE: November 20, 2015
CAST: Robert De Niro
Review By: Steven Schuneman
In new releases this week I discovered a new film called Ellis. I noticed that it was only 14 minutes long, so I thought, what could it hurt to watch? After all, if it’s no good, just move on in the wonder of Netflix. But, I was quite surprised by the high quality of this short film. Directed by JR (I couldn’t very little about him/her), Ellis takes us to the remains of Ellis Island to listen to the voices of those who passed through there on their way to America. The narration written by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), is haunting and evocative, stirring deep emotions of sadness as well as joy. Some may find it a bit dark and depressing, but it has more to offer than that.
I had only listed for a few seconds when I realized that it was being narrated by none other than Robert De Niro. Right away, I knew I’d found something special and worth sharing with others. De Niro also appears in the film as he walks through the ruins of the many buildings that made up Ellis Island. The walls and floors come alive with the faces of hundreds of families that passed through Ellis Island, or who never made it to America. The ghosts of Ellis Island tell their stories.
Ellis confirmed my belief that short films have an important role to play in telling stories and documenting history. Many short films never get seen outside film festivals, and many get lost somewhere on the internet. I commend Netflix for sharing this fine film, during a time where immigration has become a major topic once again. I’d love to see more like this movie and recommend it to you.