“We are facing a crisis because we do not embrace.”
Directed by the elusive French artist JR, 14-minute film Ellis stars Robert De Niro as a man reflecting on the immigrant experience as he wanders the halls of the abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. Following its opening in 1902, approximately 1.2 million people passed through what was seen as the gateway to America on their way to the land they hoped to call home.
De Niro’s narration – which holds up a mirror to the current migrant crisis – forms the spoken word for a new mini-album by Nils Frahm and fellow composer Woodkid. Released by modern classical imprint Erased Tapes, album sale proceeds go to Sea Watch, a non-profit dedicated to the protection and rescue of civilian refugees.
Take a closer look at the 12″ which features a 12-page booklet in the gallery below:
“The opportunity to work on JR´s fantastic short film Ellis came through my good friend Yoann aka Woodkid,” said Frahm. “The music fell into our laps and melted with the images: a wonderful experience. The film has stuck in my head ever since; it moved my heart and changed my soul.
“A couple of weeks later I had to cancel a trip to Brussels because of a terror warning; all events got cancelled and I stayed home, having an unexpected day off. I felt rather depressed that day, thinking that the Europe I knew was already gone. I sat down at the harmonium, listened to Robert De Niro’s voice and played for the rest of the day. The result is ‘Winter Morning II,’ the B-side of the Ellis soundtrack release.
“Robert says it all in 17 minutes. We are not facing a refugee crisis. We are facing a crisis because we do not embrace, we do not sympathise and we cannot give up fear. Art can encourage so I hope this project will help fight the fear in all of us.”
“Because this film and this recording is historically meaningful, it was important for us to create this piece as an echo to the immigration situation in Europe, and decided to release it in support of Sea Watch,” added Woodkid.
JR, oft referred to as the ‘French Banksy’ and whose identity remains unknown, said: “Trying to see and understand our past better is a good way to understand what’s going on right now and maybe face our future.”
Order Woodkid and Nils Frahm’s Ellis soundtrack here