Dreaming Walls

No Image To Display

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Completed


A film about iconic Chelsea Hotel as it undergoes renovations to become a luxury hotel, exploring its Bohemian roots through the last remaining 51 residents.


The legendary Chelsea Hotel, a home for artists for over 100 years and a haven of 1960’s counterculture icons including Patti Smith, Janis Joplin and the superstars of Warhol’s factory, is under renovation. Soon it will open to the public as one of New York’s most fashionable luxury hotels.


The adventure of DREAMING WALLS began four years ago when we first walked along 23rd Street in New York City and discovered, hidden by a huge scaffolding, the famous façade of the Chelsea Hotel. The neon sign was still hanging there as Patti Smith had described it in "Just Kids," a book that means a lot to both of us. As young filmmakers we idealized the artist’s life in the '70s in New York, and the room of one’s own the Chelsea offered for penniless creators of all kinds, like Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Milos Forman, and so many others. When we entered this massive red brick building for the first time we had to negotiate going further as doormen were standing there to push back all curious people. The Chelsea was closed to the public because of major renovations. The plaster was falling of the walls. What we discovered was so far away from the ideal image of this mythical building we had in our minds. We first met Merle Lister, one of the residents, who immediately invited us into her room. She told us about her past and the difficult times she was having during the transformation of the Chelsea into a luxury hotel. Over two years we met and filmed other residents who still live and create among the chaos of construction. Like Merle, they are the Chelsea hold-outs and have been living in the shadow of the more notable people who once lived there. Today they constitute the living memory of the hotel. They also remind us that the hotel, which might seem like a kind of punk hospice, is home for many people and not just a marketable vision of utopia. DREAMING WALLS will open the back door of the Chelsea Hotel for you.


The director studied at the IAD Film School in Belgium and then worked as a casting director and assistant director for the French director Jacques Doillon. In 2011, she directed and produced her first feature film, Headfirst, which screened in the ACID section at Cannes and won the main award at the New York First Time Festival. There, she met Martin Scorsese who produced her second feature The Elephant & The Butterfly which premiered at the Tribeca Festival and won the Grand Prize at the Heartland International Film Festival.

After a bachelor in arts in France, Maya Duverdier obtained her Master's degree in cinema at the Ecole Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne with her documentary JEANNE SANS ARC (2014). Next to her work as a director and writer for Cinema and Documentary she’s also active within various positions of film, television and advertising production. DREAMING WALLS is Maya’s first feature documentary, which she codirected with Amélie van Elmbt.

Lori Cheatle - Executive Producer
Lori Cheatle is a producer of over 25 award-winning films and the founder of Hard Working Movies, a company with an appetite for bold, beautiful, high-profile narratives, with films as diverse as the talented directors behind them. Some titles include Us KIDS (dir. Kim Snyder); MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A., about the pop star and activist M.I.A. (directed by Steve Loveridge); I AM ANOTHER YOU by Nanfu Wang; KIKI about the Kiki ballroom scene in NYC, directed by Sara Jordeno; CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART (directed by Jeremiah Zagar); 51 BIRCH STREET (by Doug Block) and many others. She received the Sundance Amazon Producers Award for her work in non-fiction.

Hanne Phlypo - Producer
Hanne Phlypo is one of the founders of Clin d’oeil films. The company focuses on creative documentary, author-driven films and engaging cinema initiated by innovative and creative filmmakers. Titles include Waiting for August by Teodora Ana Mihai (EFA nomination Best Feature Documentary), Houses with Small Windows by Bülent Öztürk (EFA nomination for Best Short), Between Sisters by Manu Gerosa, A Family Affair by Tom Fassaert (in coproduction with Conijn films, EFA nomination Best Feature Documentary) and Samuel in the Clouds by Pieter Van Eecke (Gold Hugo at Chicago International Film Festival).


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2022


Help promote my fundraising campaign
Put our donation widget on your website

Get Widget Code



The Gotham Logo


© 2022 The Gotham. All Rights Reserved.
   Design by Andrew Martin

The Gotham Film & Media Institute is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding, developing and celebrating the people and projects that shape the future of story.

Learn more about us or become a member