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French for "drift," the dérive was posited by philosopher Guy Debord as a revolutionary strategy for the DISRUPTION and LIBERATION of everyday life by embarking on spontaneous experimental journeys through urban landscapes. Debord was a founding member of Situationist International, a movement of artists, intellectuals, and political theorists derived from Dada and Surrealism. We think those weirdos were onto something! So we're making a film inspired by their ethos of spontaneity and play. 

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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," which Guy Debord and the Situationists experimented with as a means of 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 would gather at someone's house, lock our phones in a box, and embark on individual dérives, each guided by something 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 about our adventures, which were nothing short of transformative. It is this essence of moving through the world in a state of heightened presence, curiosity and wonder, and the emergent communities that such a state makes possible, that I hope to inspire through this film. 

Dérive is about a queer book publisher who embarks on a Surrealist odyssey (a dérive) throughout NYC to release her ex-wife's ashes at Coney Island, where she encounters an enclave of off-season circus performers who help her ritualize her grief and find catharsis through whimsy. Think Wes Anderson meets Amélie meets High Maintenance with a splash of Fellini thrown in for good measure. The film 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 City such a spectacular city in which to wander. It is also an invitation to gamify life and a celebration of queer romance. 

The pandemic forced us to fear contact with one another and lock ourselves away, like the film's protagonist Helene. Now, inspired by the phenomena of mutual aid that emerged during the pandemic, we must re-acculturate ourselves to civic life and re-imagine our relationship to public spaces and the people with whom we share them. 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. 

~ Lianne Sonia Walden


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Lianne Sonia

Lianne (she/her) is a filmmaker, theater creator, and experiential storyteller whose work invokes a more expansive sense of possibility through its flirtation with the sublime and the surreal. She was a Drama League Director's Fellow and has worked at Berkeley Rep, A.C.T., Yale Repertory Theater, Rutgers, and the Hangar Theater. She was also a creative consultant for the producers of Sleep No More, a Project Coordinator at the Foundation for Contemporary Art in Accra, Ghana, and the Program Director at Arte Hacía la Vida in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she lived and worked as a director for several years. Curiosity is her cartographer, humor is her guru, mystery is her muse.

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Ellie Jackson

Ellie Jackson (she/her) is a New York based performer and producer whose film experience ranges from spearheading indie projects to supervising $500K commercial shoots. Ellie earned a degree in theater through studies at the University of Southern California and the British American Drama Academy in London. As an actor and producer, Ellie seeks to develop and participate in projects that share truthful human stories. She is also the Co-Founder of The Neighborhood Theatre Project, a 501c3 non-profit theatre company dedicated to creating original verbatim theatre through a process rooted in interviews and conversations. 

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Jon DiMaio 

Jonathan DiMaio is a director, producer, and first assistant director based in Brooklyn. His debut feature film, UNCONFORMITY (Jack Mulhern, Alex Oliver, Drew Gehling) was released last year, and he currently has a body horror short, FLOSS (Okieriete Onaodowan, Purva Bedi) in post-production and another comedy horror PRINCETON'S IN THE MIX (Heather Burns, Charlie Besso, Syra McCarthy) in pre-production. He has worked as an assistant director and UPM on numerous features and shorts, most recently PAYMENT IN KIND (Caroline Day, Dana Drori, Nadine Malouf, Chloe Kerwin, KeiLyn Durrel Jones), which won the best film award at DCIFF, and FUNDAMENTAL SHAPES (Colin Campbell).

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Kate Fry

Kate Fry is an award-winning costume designer and scenographer for screen, stage, and themed entertainment. Spanning across different media, recent productions include the dance film The Coronation (Winner Best Scenography, Best Costumes, & Best Props at NYIFF & Oniros Film Awards), the play The Antelope Party (NY Times Critic’s Pick), the Pulitzer Prize winning opera Angel’s Bone (Poly Theatre, Beijing), and an immersive experience for Santander Bank at the Oculus in NYC that brought awareness of domestic violence to millions of pedestrians in the World Trade Center hub. As a scenographer, Fry designed both the set and costumes for The Wreck, an immersive, devised opera, hailed as “ingenious” by the Wall Street Journal. Fry made her Broadway debut as Associate Costume Designer for Burn This (Hudson Theatre), and designed costumes for Rapper Tierra Whack’s music video Mumbo Jumbo, which was Grammy Nominated for Music Video of the year. Fry’s work has also been shown at BAM Opera House, SF MOMA, The Public Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall, NY City Center, REDCAT, The Sydney Festival, Divine Comedy Festival Poland, Prague Quadrennial, Tribeca Film Festival, and the Venice Film Festival. MFA: California Institute of the Arts. 

Emma Speer

Emma loves her hometown, being silly, music, people and plants. She is a graduate of Yale University, where she was the business manager of the prestigious improv troupe Just Add Water and received a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a focus on implicit bias, language, and humor. Emma has trained in improv and sketch comedy and performed in many dramatic productions. Emma's feature film Hysterical, which she wrote, produced and performed, won Best Feature at the Toronto Comedy Film Festival. Emma works as an events coordinator at one of Connecticut’s premiere music venues and as a creative educator. One of her biggest joys in life is her her biweekly radio show, Emuse, on WPKN 89.5 FM or (where we muse, amuse, and amaze!). She’s extremely passionate and appreciates wisdom, humility, and acknowledging our interconnectedness. 

John Ort

John Ort, CSA is a two-time Artios Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Casting - most recently for his work as a Casting Director on the 2nd season of the short form series "State of the Union" for Sundance TV/AMC+, and previously as an Associate Casting Director for the first season of Netflix’s “Ozark.” Recent CD credits include the Untitled Will Gluck comedy feature for Sony, Gareth Edwards’ upcoming sci-fi feature True Love, the Miramax horror film The Home, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, the international series "The Swarm," and the last 5 seasons of CBS's "Bull." Additional credits include CBS’s “Tommy" starring Edie Falco, the Tom Hooper directed commercial film spots Holiday Ride and Capital One, feature films My Hero, Love Island (Fire Island), Last Ferry and Anya, short films The Water Song and Etymology, as well as the music video Evolution featuring Siren. Previously John was Manager of Casting for ABC Primetime in NY casting series regulars for numerous pilots and currently running series.

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