Film library » 2024 » NARRATIVE SHORT » Film details
Dérive - still #1
Dérive - still #2
Dérive - still #3
Dérive - still #4
Dérive - still #5


World Premiere

Director: Lianne Sonia Walden

United States, 2024, 18 min

Shooting Format:Digital

Festival Year:2024

Category:Narrative Short

WINNER: Best Style

Cast:Heather Raffo, Francis Benhamou, Gopal Divan, Christopher Le Crenn, Lucy Martin

Crew:Writer/Director: Lianne Sonia Walden, Producer: Ellie Jackson, Editor: Zack Boger, Director of Photography: Andres Karu, Original Score: Yair Evnine, Costume Design: Kate Fry, Production Design: Sergio Maza, Art Direction: Hamilton Guillen, Casting: John Ort, Consulting Producers: Jonathan DiMaio, Devin Armstrong, Executive Producers: Jonathan Kaplan, Arcturus Eden, Andrew Kortina


Guided by posthumous instructions to release her ex-wife’s ashes, a reclusive book publisher embarks on a Surrealist odyssey (a dérive) across New York City, experiencing a series of spontaneous connections along the way that challenge her to engage the world anew.


About the director

Lianne is filmmaker and theatre director whose work invokes a more expansive sense of possibility through its flirtation with the sublime, the serendipitous, and the surreal. She was a Drama League Director's Fellow, a creative consultant for the producers of Sleep No More, Project Coordinator at the Foundation for Contemporary Art in Accra, Ghana, and Program Director at Arte Hacía la Vida in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she lived and worked as a director for several years. Lianne studied directing at Yale (BA), film and immersive design at CalArts (MFA), and has certificates in screenwriting and directing from Sundance Co//ab. Her first film "Lullaby" premiered at the Breckenridge Film Festival, and she is currently in post-production on a documentary about the Shanghai Jews. Curiosity is her cartographer, humor is her guru, mystery is her muse.

Website Filmography

Filmmaker's note

Those who know me know I like to talk to strangers, get lost in cities, and court synchronicity. They know I love the circus (because it queers reality) and that I’m a Burner and a backpacker (of both the wilderness and the world).

I often wonder how to maintain a sense of openness, presence, and deep engagement outside of those peak experiences. I was struck, therefore, when I came across the theory of "dérive," French for "drift", which Guy Debord from the Situationists posited as a revolutionary strategy for disrupting everyday life, fostering spontaneity, and counteracting the social alienation resulting from late-stage capitalism and other accidents of civilization. Inspired by their ethos, some friends and I started throwing Mystery Days, during which we'd leave our phones at home and embark on individual dérives, each guided by a premise as random as a coin toss or as sentimental as the desire to hear a stranger's life story. At the end of the day, we would regroup to share our stories, which consistently revealed to us how the world meets the energy we bring to it.

The pandemic forced us to fear contact with and lock ourselves away from one another, like the film's protagonist Helene. In its aftermath, we've had the opportunity to re-imagine our relationship to public spaces and the people with whom we share them. In order to align theory with praxis, we embarked on regular dérives throughout pre-production, recruiting the many “only in New York” characters we encountered in the streets to appear in the film. As such, our filmmaking praxis became an experiment in spontaneous connection and emergent community (not to mention our renegade use of public spaces, permits be damned).

Dérive is a visual treatise on the art of wandering and a cinematic love letter to the oddball characters, serendipitous encounters, and hidden places that make New York such a spectacular city in which to wander. It is an invitation to gamify life, a celebration of queer romance, and a meditation on grief, which I became more intimately acquainted with after losing my dear friend and collaborator Tigre Bailando, to whom the film is dedicated.

May this film inspire you to engage more playfully with your environment, disrupt your routine, and embrace the delightful strangeness of the strangest of strangers.

Related links