• Nate Adams

SXSW Snapshots: 'Lily Topples the World,' 'Kid Candidate' and 'Introducing Selma Blair'


Editor’s Note: The SXSW Snapshot series is a collection of short reviews from our coverage of the 2021 South by Southwest online film festival. Reviews were compiled in no particular order. Be on the lookout for more snapshots. Enjoy!


INTRODUCING SELMA BLAIR

In 2018, actress Selma Blair (of “Cruel Intentions” and “Legally Blonde” fame) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) which provided both clarity and uncertainty about her future. In Rachel Fliet’s candid and emotional documentary “Introducing Selma Blair,” audiences are given a raw behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lifestyle of Blair. In the years since, the actress has become an ambassador for MS research and eventually opted for experimental stem-cell treatment and Fliet documents the entire journey. Blair generally plays the supporting role or quirky sidekick, and finally “Introducing Selma Blair” gives her the role of a lifetime: herself.


Any enjoyment of a fact-based documentary depends on your subject matter and Blair makes a compelling, versatile, figure to study. I admired her resilience and strength in showing audiences that MS affects different aspects of the nervous system including speech patterns. There are moments when the documentary seems reluctant to dig deeper into controversial medical procedures like stem cell transplants though Blair understands it’s not popular. But her positive, determinative, attitude keeps us invested in her progress.


Grade: B+


INTRODUCING SELMA BLAIR debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and will premiere on Discovery+ later this year.


KID CANDIDATE

In what might be the first political campaign started by a meme, musician Hayden Pedigo’s unlikely bid for a city council position in Amarillo, Texas is the basis for Jasmine Stodel’s hour long documentary “Kid Candidate.” Pedigo, known for his outlandish, bizarre, and amateurish YouTube videos, started his “campaign” through a series of viral videos that capitulated him into the spotlight. Pedigo capitalizes on his fame and decides to run for office. “Kid Candidate” offers an appealing commentary on corrupt city policies and advocates for change in the least likely place.


“Kid Candidate” explores Pedigo’s personal and professional relationships as well as his strenuous schedule that takes him across Amarillo in a variety of different ways. He faces stiff competition from bankrolled incumbents and other established members of the community, but Pedigo is exactly the type of ambitious millennial who could disrupt the system. Even more impressive, “Kid Candidate” encourages its viewers to get involved at the local level and to explore local municipalities. But most importantly, it showcases a political underdog that, for once, sticks up for the little guy.


Grade: B


KID CANDIDATE debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and is currently seeking distribution


LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD:

In the age of short-form viewing, aided by YouTube and Tik Tok, it’s now easier to become a viral sensation and introduce artistic avenues that aren’t necessarily mainstream. Lily Hevesh - better known to her fans as Hevesh 5 - cultivated an entire generation of domino artists and fostered an online community through her unique and mind boggling domino stunts. Jeremy Workman’s documentary “Lily Topples the World” captures the rise of Havesh’s professional career. A gig that would land top paying jobs with “The Tonight Show,” “Today,” and hanging out on the set of Will Smith’s “Collateral Beauty.”


“Lily Topples the World” is an earnest and engaging look behind the scenes of domino art: from the inception, crafting, and ultimately the finished product. What Hevesh has accomplished at the age of 20 is nothing short of extraordinary, but Workman’s documentary hits a few roadblocks when dabbling with the business model of YouTubers and their subscriber base. The material can feel a bit stretched, especially as most of the doc is spliced together with a variety of YouTube videos, though watching Hevesh climb domino ranks and learning her story doesn't topple the film's momentum.


Grade: B


LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and is seeking distribution.


All the above photos courtesy of the SXSW Film Festival