Month: February 2016

Ellis film starring De Niro sparks plagiarism claim

Ellis  is a gorgeous film, a simultaneously dark and glimmering short about the immigrant experience. Robert De Niro stars in and narrates this film, which was directed by French artist, JR, and written by Eric Roth.

Somewhere else. They all wanted to be somewhere else. When I was much younger, as an undergraduate in a fancy private school where I had no business being, where I didn’t belong, I made a short avant-garde-esqe film and called it Somewhere Else. This is why this film resonates with me… The feeling of wanting to be somewhere else was something I shared with my ancestors and the people who came on boats to Ellis Island and other ports of entry. And they lived and loved – and because they did, I would be. I am. Ellis made me wonder, was this feeling of wanting to be somewhere else my own or was it passed down, through the generations, in my DNA? You can watch Ellis on Netflix, but before you do, keep reading.
[Screech of needle across record]
Then I learned via Twitter, a plagiarism lawsuit is pending against De Niro and an associate, by the Italian author of the screenplay, L’uomo in Frac (The Man in Tails), Stephania Grassi. I have to say, after watching Ellis and the comparison video (Chrome and other browsers have a “translate” button) I have to agree with Grassi, some passages of dialogue are identical or strikingly similar, and some scene descriptions and stage directions are similar, if not identical. I will be interested to learn the outcome of the lawsuit.  If true, it’s so disappointing. De Niro denies the allegations and claims they are libelous. What do you think?
Did your ancestors come to America through Ellis Island?
You can search for them at the Ellis Island Foundation website.
What’s your Rootstory? Contact me at rootstories.com.