Dreaming Walls | Review | Tribeca Film Festival 2022


Maya Duverdier and Amélie van Elmbt collaborate on their documentary debut, Dreaming Walls - a love letter to the timeless romantic act of being an artist in New York. "I've always liked to be where the big guys were", one of their contributors utters inside the walls of the mythic Chelsea Hotel, previous home to Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Stanley Kubrick, Jane Fonda, Bob Dylan and countless other names that sparkle. 

The landmark is the playground for their subjects, people who are keeping life pumping out of one of New York's most utopian artefacts. For artists, it captures the essence of what it means to live solely to create and for the residents, they are honouring that like religion, dancing in the crumbling halls, painting in their tiny studios and keeping the history alive like their lives depend on it. 

In many ways, Dreaming Walls feels like a ghost story. Projections of legendary moments play on the hallowed walls, while the present threatens to, quite literally, demolish that history. Sold in 2011, the hotel has undergone renovations, allowing long-term residents to remain living on this construction site while ownership passes between hands. 

"The roots are deep, and there's life still coming from it". Duverdier and van Elmbt capture that life through vignettes of the different experiences of some of its contributors. Spending 80-minutes cramped inside the walls with the hotel's greatest lovers is a gift. The painful intimacy glimpsed by the directors must be a testimony to the bonds formed during filming. It demands your attention because it feels wrong to look away from such personal moments. 

Heartbreaking and hopeful, Dreaming Walls aches to be remembered among the festival line-up. Dedicated "To all those that once stayed at the Chelsea. And to their dreams", Duverdier and van Elmbt honour those people tenderly; "There are people here who really are the remnants of another time in New York", but perhaps this other time will flood into the present and restore the beating heart to preserve art in an age not much dedicated serving it. 

Dreaming Walls will have its North American Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival on June 17th. It is also showing June 18th and 19th. 

For more info and tickets visit https://tribecafilm.com/films/dreaming-walls-inside-the-chelsea-hotel-2022

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