Dreaming Walls: Amélie van Elmbt & Maya Duverdier’s Documentary (Berlin Fest 2022)

Directors Amélie van Elmbt & Maya Duverdier’s documentary looks at the current state of New York’s Chelsea Hotel, formerly home to many of the most important artists of the 20th century.

 

The new documentary Dreaming Walls features a dinner shared by residents of New York’s famous and famously under-construction Chelsea Hotel, as they debate whether or not renovations to the hotel will impact its reputation as a site of sex, drugs and freewheeling counterculture.

One woman is sure that the new management will bring new occupants and a new overall attitude, but another argues that the Chelsea’s bohemian excess is baked into its gestalt.

The 80-minute film isn’t an overview of the Chelsea and its history of iconic and notorious residents, ranging from Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsberg to Madonna, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

Instead, the directors try to convey the special attributes, the unique ambience of the Chelsea, from its past to its scaffolded present.

It’s a ghost story haunted by fame and celebrity, but ultimately much more grounded than that.