SxSW 2021 Film Review – LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD

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LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD (United States, dir. Jeremy Workman) **** out of ****

Somehow, doc filmmaker Jeremy Workman has outdone himself. Already a tremendous fan of the filmmaker after his wonderful doc THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET premiered here at SxSW in 2018 (itself a movie about a guy who walked every street in New York which directly inspired me to walk more), I may go out on a limb here and call LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD the best documentary you will see in 2021. Or at the least it’s the most entertaining and inspiring movie experience that I have had in a long time and a powerful reminder of the power of these discoveries at film festivals.

Lily Hevish is well known to many as a professional domino artist with millions of followers on her YouTube, and her true passion come across very quickly in the opening moments. We follow Lily’s journey as she not only sets up massively complicated domino creations — all of which topple down on filmed display to amazing results – but also the business behind it, how she gets paid work and how her parents assist in turning this into a business, all the way to even popular YouTuber Casey Neistat coming on board to promote her work to major news shows and movies utilizing her work. And this is just a beaming 20 year old kid who seems to always have a smile her on her face.

Every single frame of this doc is a warm hug and the whole experience is inspiring to see. The mad genius behind Workman’s doc is not just how busy and upbeat it is in its 90 minutes, but also how careful his filmmaking is; through carefully placed camera-work we gently get to peek into the creative process, the total love and support of Lily’s parents, the people that positively weave in and out and the larger forces that come in to support her. There are no bad guys here, there is no negativity; it brought tears to my eyes that someone is doing something that they love, they are good at it, and it inspires people to try to do their own best and not simply copy her. That, and it’s also just a LOT of fun to see many brilliant sequences of when her domino designs work, and even when they sometimes don’t (there’s a moment here where one VERY complicated setup takes an unexpected turn, and I screamed out loud. Sorry, neighbours). Workman is wise to balance a lot of the behind-the-scenes footage along with thrilling domino sequences, and even though it’s a doc this is such a great entertainment, which is what every movie is supposed to do in the first place.

LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD is near-perfection for a documentary; it effortlessly captures an exact current moment and feeling; the new-wave of creation and how this is going to push more freedom in creativity, and the entire experience of the doc is so inviting and positive that it also gives us hope in these confusing times. I am hoping many young people see this and it will just give them the precise push they need to pursue their dreams. 

LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD is now streaming on SxSW Online. If you are still on the fence on attending the virtual event, I’m hoping this review points you in the right direction.

This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to www.sxsw.com!

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