Skywalkers: A Love Story Image

Skywalkers: A Love Story

By Bobby LePire | January 25, 2024

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! Skywalkers: A Love Story, directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Maria Bukhonina, is not a fan fim about shipping Star Wars characters. The documentary is about rooftopping, which is when someone free climbs up roofs, cranes, towers, antennas, and other high structures. Specifically, the filmmakers chronicle the king and queen of rooftopping, Angela Nikolau and Ivan Beerkus. While they started climbing separately, the two soon collaborated and eventually fell in love.

Beerkus brings the know-how, while Nikolau elevates what they do atop the roofs/scaffolding to art. Soon enough, the couple is the face of rooftopping, scoring big huge sponsors who pay for Nikolau and Beerkus to jet set across the world. But COVID-19 ends that, and then Russia’s war in Ukraine makes things even more complicated. All these pressures pit the two against each other. In order to reaffirm their love, both for each other and their chosen profession, they plan on climbing the mega-tall skyscraper Merdeka 118, located in the very strict country of Malaysia, while still under construction.

A still from Skywalkers: A Love Story by Jeff Zimbalist, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

“…to reaffirm their love, both for each other and their chosen profession, they plan on climbing the megatall skyscraper Merdeka 118…”

If one is afflicted by vertigo or acrophobia, perhaps it is best to not watch Skywalkers: A Love Story. So much of the film is compromised of drone footage or videos of Nikolau and Beerkus, among other rooftoppers, being story upon story high, engaging in gymnastic feats of grace and strength. It is a dizzying and jaw-dropping experience from start to finish. A photoshoot wherein Beerkus tells his lady love to relax her palm shows just how serious they take creating their art. It also highlights the dangers of posing so many stories above the ground, as less bodily contact between the structure and oneself equals less stability.

Zimbalist and Bukhonina allow the subjects’ natural chemistry and charisma to carry audiences through every high and low. As the seemingly impossible trek to the top spire of the under-construction skyscraper looms ever closer, Nikolau and Beerkus need to put their trust in each other. Unfortunately, due to her past, Nikolau has walls up, even around the man who will obviously do anything for her. Beerkus, well-meaning though he is, must always be in control, which comes across as overbearing to his paramour. But despite these attributes, both of them are genuine, sweet, fun, and dedicated athletes achieving the impossible. Their chemistry is undeniable, and everyone watching will be rooting for the two to stay together by the end, as this is, after all, a love story.

Skywalkers: A Love Story is riveting and engrossing. The cinematography is beautiful, capturing the wonder and danger of being so high. The editing is sublime, going from photos to video to film to news footage with ease. But the best thing about the documentary is Nikolau and Beerkus. These two are delightful together and have a strong sense of what rooftopping means to them, which is perfectly conveyed throughout the 100-minute runtime.

Skywalkers: A Love Story screened at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Skywalkers: A Love Story (2024)

Directed: Jeff Zimbalist, Maria Bukhonina

Written: Jeff Zimbalist

Starring: Angela Nikolau, Ivan Beerkus, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Skywalkers: A Love Story Image

"…[beautifully captures] the wonder and danger of being so high."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. […] Susan Feniger: Forked, A Culinary Disaster, Gaucho Gaucho, Igualada, Skywalkers: A Love Story, Never Look Away, Dig! XX, Ibelin, Porcelain War, Black Box […]

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon