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A FILM BY LIANNE SONIA WALDEN

Watch trailer:

SYNOPSIS:

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/invite her to engage the world anew. 

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DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT:

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.

~ Lianne Sonia Walden

CREATIVE TEAM

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Heather Raffo
HELENE

Heather Raffo is a multi-award winning actress and playwright whose work has been described by The New Yorker as “an example of how art can remake the world”. With national and international scope, she’s performed at venues from The Kennedy Center to London’s House of Lords and regularly can be seen Off Broadway, off West End, in regional theater and in film. An American with Iraqi roots, her groundbreaking plays and librettos 9 Parts of Desire, Noura and Fallujah helped forge a new genre of Middle Eastern American theater and together garnered Lucielle Lortel, Helen Hayes and Weissberger Awards as well as Drama League and Outer Critic Circle nominations. Her recently released film adaptation of her seminal play, Nine Parts aired on PBS in 2023. With an extensive career spanning classical and modern work, Raffo is proud to have originated leading roles in the following world premieres at New York City’s leading theatrical institutions including The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Playwright Horizons and Women’s Project:  Munich Medea, The Profane, Food and Fadwa, Palace of The End, In Darfur, and Seven.

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Heather Benhamou
YASMINE

Francis Benhamou is currently shooting the Netflix series BLACK RABBIT starring opposite Jude Law and Jason Bateman. She will also be seen in Netflix’s comedy KINDA PREGANT alongside Amy Schumer. Most recently, Francis starred as the scene stealing Elodie in the Tony nominated play PRAYER FOR THE FRENCH REPUBLIC at Manhattan Theatre Club directed by David Cromer. Benhamou was awarded the 2022 Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Awards for best featured actor for the play’s off Broadway run prior to transferring. Other Theater credits include SELLING KABUL, THE PROFANE (Playwrights Horizons), MOTEL CHERRY (Clubbed Thumb/New Georges), THREE WOMEN (59E59), C:10 (The CollectiveNY) and the Obie award winning play INVASION!  In television, she has recurred on Paramount’s INSIDE AMY SCHUMER and has appeared in Apple’s DEAR EDWARD, Hulu’s LIFE AND BETH, Netflix’s DAREDEVIL and  Disney’s THE BRONX IS BURNING. Film roles include ARRANGED, WOMEN WHO KILL, LISTEN UP PHILIP, and BIG WORDS.

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Gopal Divan

FARFIFQUE

Born in Hong Kong, where his family lived, as well as moving between Dubai and Taiwan. He then moved to London to train with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Drama Centre, London where he received his degree. He currently resides in New York City. He has worked on and off-Broadway in New York, regionally throughout the US, London's West End & Hong Kong. His current and future screen work can be seen on HBO, Apple, AMC, CBS, BBC and in a range of indies.

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Christopher Le Crenn
FRANCOIS

Christopher Le Crenn is a professional mime/clown and can also be seen playing a French mime in the upcoming film, The Answer to My Prayer (with Luis Fonsi and Chris Kattan.) He is most often recognized as the Court Jester in The Love Witch, and most recently appeared onstage in the NYCfringe hit show, Clown Bar 2. 

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Lucy Martin
RUBY

Lucy Martin’s career encompasses over 40 plays on Broadway and off, including HEDDA GABLER, THE CONSTANT WIFE, HOLLYWOOD ARMS, THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG, JOE EGG, MAJOR BARBARA, NOISES OFF, CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD, TEN CHIMNEYS, FLAMINGO COURT, LA TERRACE, COLLECTED STORIES, & SUBSTANCE OF FIRE. Regional credits include RABBIT HOLE, DOUBT, MORNINGS AT SEVEN, MURDERERS, THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY, MEDEA & STEEL MAGNOLIAS. TV & Film –ALL LAW & ORDER’S, BLUE BLOODS, BULL, FBI, PERSON OF INTEREST, 6 years as Tiffany Whitney on CBS soap THE EDGE OF NIGHT, NEW KIDS, THE PRODUCERS, ANAMORPH., DEATH PACT w. Tracy Morgan, DERIVE

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Megumi Yamada
STILTWALKER

Megumi is a New York based Japanese Circus Performer. She is an award-winning aerialist and experienced stilt walker. Most recently for her work as a stilt artist is for an after party for the Met Gala 2024 hosted by Usher. In 2023, she performed in a music video by the Gaslight Anthem - history Books featuring Bruce Springteen. She has performed as an aerial expert with Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Westchester Circus Arts, King Richerd's Renaissance Fair, Alterra Productions, AB Circus, and name a few. Additionally, coaching aerial arts at the CirquHaus in Manhattan.

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Lianne Sonia
WRITER & DIRECTOR

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
PRODUCER

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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Andres Karu 
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Andres Karu was born and raised in New Jersey. After studying film at Rutgers Uni- versity, he wound up pursuing another passion of his: music. He travelled the country as a professional musician for several years before moving to NYC to begin a career as an assistant cameraman. As a cinematographer, he has photographed features, short films, commercials and music videos for artists such as Deftones, Kanye West and Teyana Taylor. Andres has also shot several seasons of true crime tv shows for Discovery ID, Oxygen and TLC. His recent work includes the documentary, “Larger Than Life” about legendary make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin and the indie feature “Clemen- tine”, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and has won best cinematography awards at Bend and Tallgrass film festivals. It was released by Oscilloscope Films in May, 2020.

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Kate Fry
COSTUME DESIGNER

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.

Sergio Maza
PRODUCTION DESIGNER

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 wpkn.org (where we muse, amuse, and amaze!). She’s extremely passionate and appreciates wisdom, humility, and acknowledging our interconnectedness.

Hamilton Guillen
ART DIRECTOR

Hamilton Guillén is a multidisciplinary designer and creative director from California working in film and live performance. His process integrates a holistic approach — synthesizing visual research, dramaturgy, politics, and pop culture. Recent credits include: Projection Designer for Mud & Springtime (Colm Summers, Lenfest Center for the Arts, NYC); Lighting Designer for Call Me By Any Other Name (Nigel Semaj, Muhlenberg College, PA); Production Designer for narrative short films Married to the Bag (Zane Bhansali, NY) and Parent Trip (Leah Chen Baker, VT). Upcoming: Art Director for Rose: You Are Who You Eat by John Jarboe — a Guggenheim Museum ‘Works & Process’ commissioned artist residency co-sponsored by the Bethany Arts Community (NY). He studied performance design at the University of Leeds (UK) and UC Berkeley before earning his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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Zack Boger
EDITOR

Zack honed his skills as a documentary and non-scripted TV editor, before making the leap into narrative features and shorts. His narrative work spans from comedies (Paulie Go!, The Outside Story, Lady of the Manor), speculative dramas (Nine Days), thrillers (The Sniper's Daughter), and a multitude of short films (Derive, The Resemblance, Payment in Kind, Alive & Well, All Will Become Clear at the Point of Contact, and the upcoming Last Hope). He enjoys dogs, storytelling craft, having long debates about the pros and cons of adding 3 frames to this shot, and is currently spending all of his time getting ready to be a father this summer!

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Devin Armstrong
CONSULTING PRODUCER

I am a Brooklyn, New York based photographer, film director, and screenwriter. I’m a music junky, a science nerd, an avid reader, and a native New Yorker. I’m a graduate of the Columbia University Film Directing MFA program. As a photographer and as a filmmaker my greatest strengths are in my ability to create connections with the people on the other side of the camera and to create a comfortable environment in which people can do their best work. I am a storyteller at heart and I absolutely love using visuals to communicate with viewers. I have shot stills and videos for brands, creatives, professionals, and families. My photography portfolio includes portraits, headshots, event coverage, brand campaigns, and behind-the-scenes on films. My short films have screened at film festivals around the country.

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Emma Speer
PRODUCTION ASSOCIATE

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 wpkn.org (where we muse, amuse, and amaze!). She’s extremely passionate and appreciates wisdom, humility, and acknowledging our interconnectedness.

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Jon DiMaio 
CONSULTING PRODUCER

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).

Tad Greene
HAIR & MAKEUP ARTIST

I'm a makeup artist and hair stylist. Beauty is my passion, and has built my confidence so much. I want to share that love and my talents with other women and men. I have been pursuing makeup since I was 16 years old and at 19 I attended and graduated from Makeup Designory (MUD) school in NYC where I studied Special FX, Beauty, and Hair. After School, I’ve had the honor of assisting some celebrity makeup artist such as David Maderich, Roberto Casey and Edward Cruz. Since finishing school, I have continued to pursue makeup, working with different film productions. I currently have 23 film credit on IMDB and I recently won an award at the Hollywood Blood Horror Film Festival 2021 for the short film "Breathe" directed by Badar Tareen. I’ve also had the honor of having my work published and glamming some beautiful brides on their special day. Retail has also been an amazing space for me to learn and develop. I’ve worked for MAC Cosmetics, Sephora, Lancôme and Pucker Beauty studio. Makeup has taken me to so many amazing places, I’ve been blessed to travel and develop my artistry.

John Ort
CASTING DIRECTOR

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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CONTACT

Lianne Sonia Walden
lianne.walden@gmail.com
530-430-7037

 

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