Recits d’Ellis Island. Histoires d’errance et d’espoir 1: Traces

Year1980 Duration57 min. DirectorRobert Bober, Georges Perec WriterRobert Bober, Georges Perec PhotographyJacques Pamart, Claude Pezet EditorClaude Fréchède, Blanche Cuniot SoundJean-Claude Brisson Production Institut National de l’Audiovisuel

Ellis Island, the island which was the gateway to the American dream through which 16 million people passed, speaking 25 different languages, was the perfect place for George Perec. Unlike his attempts to trap Saint Sulpice Square in Paris, here the writer seeks to develop something even more difficult:  the temptation to trap a non-place. An old album, Oulipo listings, a guided tour, empty places, everything serves to narrate this island on which an interview is proof that the hours pass on saying: “we cried every day”.  Perec wonders how to make this film. Undoubtedly, he also asks himself why make it. All searches are personal and there is nothing that looks more like an abandoned place than another abandoned place. An island, which in this case is the most populated, provides us with a film about wandering and hope.

Robert Bober, Georges Perec

(París, 1936 – Ivry-sur-Seine, 1982)

He is one of the most important French writers of the 20th century. Born into a Jewish family, his childhood was marked by the Nazi occupation of France. His written work includes novels, theatre plays, poems, essays, miscellaneous, scripts, articles, illustrated books, verbal and linguistic games, such as this novel written without using the letter E called La Disparition (1969). He also developed music and film projects, such as the film, The Man who Sleeps (1974). Immersed in formal experimentation, he was the standard bearer of the New Roman and member of the Oulipo group, Potential Literature Workshop. In 1965, he published his first novel, Things, although his greatest success would not come until 1978 with Life: An Instruction Manual.


Un homme qui dort (1974)
L'oeil de l'autre (1977)
Récits d'Ellis Island (1980)

(Berlín, 1931)

Producer, director and writer. In 1933, his Jewish family fled from the Nazis and took refuge in France. After learning the trades of tailor and potter, in the 1950’s, he became the assistant of Francois Truffaut in such important films as The 400 Blows (1959) or Jules and Jim (1962). In the 1960’s and 1970’s, he made TV documentaries on the period between wars and the Holocaust. In the 1980’s, he worked with Pierre Dumayet on a series of portraits on writers, such as Paul Valery, Flaubert or George Perec, with whom he produced Récits d'Ellis Island in 1979. His novels have a marked autobiographical feel. He won the Livre Inter prize for the first of them, What News of the War? (1993). Boasting a filmography of around 120 documentary films, Bober is one of the most reputed directors of the genre in France. He currently lives in Paris.

Selected filmography:

Cholem Aleichem, un écrivain de langue yiddish (1967)
La génération d'après (1970)
La cloche et ses clochardes (1971)
T'es un adulte, toi ! (1972)
C'est ainsi qu'on invente le spectacle (1974)
En semi-liberté (1974)
Réfugié provenant d'Allemagne : apatride d'origine polonaise (1976)
Adresse provisoire : Les Molines (1977)
La photographie hors-cadre (1978)
Récits d'Ellis Island (1980)
En remontant la rue Vilin
L'ombre portée (1993)

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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