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SFFILM Review: “Lily Topples The World”

After its recent world premiere at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival, Jeremy Workman’s superb new documentary “Lily Topples The World” won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature. The film is being featured this week on the lineup of the 64th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM) and it’s a must-see.

22-year-old Lily Hevesh started posting videos of her unique domino creations at the tender age of nine. Over time, her ideas became more elaborate and she has built a massive following on YouTube where her videos have reached over a billion views.

Before watching the film, I never could have imagined that being a “domino artist” was something you could make a living from. Something tells me that your average person still could not, but a small handful (of otherwise mostly young men) have done just that in recent years.

It is impressive to watch Lily use her truly visionary talents time and again to elevate others with less experience and visibility to success with corporate gigs and domino maze reveals at large events.

One of many impactful sequences in the film shows Lily at a convention taking the time to meet a much younger fan who wants to show her a tribute video that he made for her on YouTube. As the screen reveals his follower count on the platform is merely in the 20s (compared to hers in the millions), she patiently sits down on the floor with him to give her attention and encourage him to keep up the good work. She devotes the same genuine engagement with this young fan as she does when meeting Jimmy Fallon on the set of “The Tonight Show.”

Her compassion and thoughtfulness clearly comes, in part, to her parents who adopted her from China when she was a baby. Her father is seen working closely to protect Lily’s brand while she travels the globe to collaborate with other artists and pitches her own line of toppling dominos with toy and game manufacturers.

“Lily Topples The World” is a heartwarming and inspirational family-friendly experience. I am honestly floored that it hasn’t already been picked up for distribution from its early festival play. This will absolutely slay audiences on any streaming service that acquires it and it feels like it won’t be long before that occurs.

In the meantime, online tickets for “Lily Topples The World” are still available for purchase to anyone in the United States and the film is viewable until Sun, Apr 18 at 11:59 pm PST. Viewings must be completed with 24 hours of starting the film and there is a Q&A with Workman and Hevesh that follows the end credits.