Miss Ellis Island


Coming This Spring:

Calling all the ladies of the Old World…
Come to America to compete in the Annual
Miss Ellis Island Beauty Pageant!
A land of golden opportunity awaits!
America, the Mother of Exiles, opens her
arms to you. “Give me your tired, your poor,
and your most beautiful women yearning to
breathe free!”

The idea for “Miss Ellis Island” came to me just over a year ago. Last September, my best friend and I spent one of our last and precious summer days, just before school struck, on an adventure to Ellis Island. I wanted more than anything to visit; to delve deep into my Jewish Ancestry and my American Heritage. As we waited for our ferry to Ellis Island, I looked out on the Statue of Liberty. Through the sepia color of my sunglasses, she embodied a timelessly fey quality. Gazing out at her, I felt as though I was seeing this symbol of America, Beauty and Liberty through the same sepia tinted eyes of every immigrant that passed under her bright torch into America before me. I was charged with a feeling of uncontainable excitement and hope – I felt in that moment as if the whole world unfolded its arms to me for the taking.

When our ferry docked and I noticed the name printed on the side of the boat. Written in a quintessential Americana type, the ferry seemingly screamed out her name out at me – MISS ELLIS ISLAND! In that moment, I was struck with inspiration for this film!  The Miss Ellis Island Beauty Pageant! On a surface level, the film follows the story of FREDA, a young, beautiful peasant girl who leaves her parents in THE OLD COUNTRY and ventures to AMERICA to compete in the annual MISS ELLIS ISLAND beauty pageant in the hopes of winning a wealthy American husband and gaining acceptance in the golden land of opportunity. At its heart, the film is the essence of the American dream, told through the eyes of a young immigrant. Using this fictitious beauty pageant as a portal into our differing and diverse pasts, I want to explore the way migration structures have seemingly helped to shape America’s contemporary views on sexuality, gender, desire, and family in unexpected ways.

In light of contemporary ideas about immigration, homeland security, and sexuality, I hope, through the witty and satirical revisioning of history, to reveal the shifting connections between immigration, notions of self and country, sexuality, race, and America’s commodity and superficiality driven culture. Most of all candidly invite everyone to share in the delight I experienced in my visit to Ellis Island!

The Cast

Emma Berliner – Director
Rachel Wenitsky Co-Director/AD
Izak Rap – Exec. Producer
Paul Perez – DP
Sara Jo – Line Producer
Elizabeth Kelly – Production Designer

Allie Lee
Daisy Hamilton
Ellpetha Tsivicos
Hailey Gates
Heather Thiry
Martina Monro
Kyle Hester
Erin Mullin

And Starring Timothy Scott & Zoe Worth

Help us fund the movie: CLICK HERE!

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