SXSW 2018: “The World Before Your Feet” Review

“The World Before Your Feet” is a documentary feature that was directed, produced, edited and shot by Jeremy Workman and stars Matt Green. It had its world premiere at SXSW on March 10 and it’s also the first film actor Jesse Eisenberg has worked on as a producer. The film follows Green for a portion of the project he is working on, which is to walk every block in the five boroughs of New York City, including parks, beaches and cemeteries. Green has done the math – that’s more than 8,000 miles – and he’s been working on it for years.

As Workman follows Green through the city, it becomes clear that walking is not just the simple activity or mode of transportation you may think for the documentary’s subject. While he walks through the varied neighborhoods, he documents photos and facts for his blog and speaks to people in the communities. This documentary may not have panned out if it were done by anyone but Workman and Green; the star is outgoing, knowledgeable and charismatic, while Workman deftly follows him through the narrowest paths and busiest streets.

Matt Green shakes hands with a man who wishes him well on his walk

Green walks nearly full-time and has no job or home; he instead stays with people, whether that be friends, kind strangers, or people for whom he’s pet-sitting. At one point in the film he meets a man in a pick-up truck who asks if he’s independently wealthy, to which Green replies, “I’m independently homeless.” It’s not a simple summation of his life, but it does show off his sense of humor about what he’s doing and how people tend to respond to it. He’s so committed to continuing this project that he even walks the city in inclement weather, like pouring rain or feet of snow.

Matt Green trekking through snow

While most of the documentary features only Green and those he meets in his daily travels, there are interviews with his parents and brother, with ex-girlfriends and with others who took up walking the city as a project of their own. Each of these people have their own stories, but all of them are connected with Green and their stories inevitably link back to him.

“The World Before Your Feet” ends up being many things; sure, it follows one man’s journey through the city of New York, but during that journey both he and the audience learn about the city’s flora and explore memorials to 9/11. Green finds a fascination with certain barber shops and joins a football game in the middle of a snowy street. Any viewer who is familiar with New York will get joy out of watching the city shown in a different light from how it’s usually portrayed in media and anyone who is unfamiliar with it will walk away from this documentary wanting to visit.

Catch “The World Before Your Feet” one last time at Alamo Drafthouse Lamar, Screen A on March 14 at 2:45 PM – 4:20 PM. Make sure to stay tuned for more exclusive interviews, reviews and recaps! 

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