Ellis Island

Year1981 Duration28 min. DirectorMeredith Monk, Bob Rosen PhotographyJerry Pantzer EditorBob Rosen SoundDan Kinoy MusicMeredith Monk Production John Bollinger, Susan Dowling, Bob Rosen


1982 Chicago International Film Festival / 2001 Hamptons International Film Festival / 2003 St. Petersburg Kinodance International Dance Film Festival / 2005 ERA New Horizons Film Festival

How to pronounce vacuum cleaner? A teacher shows the first notions of the new language in this small area of land surrounded by the sea. We are at the gateway to the new world and Serbs, Basques, Irish and Italians learn all together to say vacuum cleaner in English. The American dream is concentrated in these sounds and others which the artist, Meredith Monk, masterfully shows in her peculiar review of this island which brought tongues, half noses and deleted identities together. The film covers the place in circles so as not to ignore any of its corners. Recreations, dances in black and white, a guided tour in colour… up to the present day with something as metaphysical as a guard watching over emptiness. The ruins of the American dream are filmed by the gifted sound artist in conjunction with Bob Rosen.

Meredith Monk, Bob Rosen

(Lima, Peru, 1943)

Composer, singer, choreographer and filmmaker based in the United States. Pioneer of the "extended vocal technique" and the "interdisciplinary performance", she is the author of over eighty works that combine voice, movement and image. In 1964, she founded The House, a company dedicated to staging performances and in 1978, the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble, to mould her vocal compositions. In her discography, we can find references, such as Dolmen Music (1981), Turtle Dreams (1983) or Facing North (1992). In the field of opera, Atlas: an Opera in Three Parts (1991) can be highlighted and in experimental film, Ellis Island (1979) and Book of Days (1989). She has won numerous awards, such as two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Brandeis Creative Arts Award or the National Music Theatre Award.


Ellis Island (1982)
Book of Days (1989)

Promoted by
Gobierno de Navarra
Organized by
With the aid of
Con la financiación del Gobierno de España. Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes Audiovisuales Acción Cultural Española Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia Financiado por la Unión Europea. NexGenerationEU

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