Exploring the intersection of commercialism and immigration in American culture, the documentary filmmakers follow their friend and fellow filmmaker Tom Xia on an intimate, humorous journey to get to know his neighbors. Tom has spent his life in between Chinese and American culture, constantly negotiating between his home life and everything else in the California suburbs where he’s grown up since emigrating from mainland China at age eight. With deep ties to his extended family back home and increasing pride in China’s huge steps forward in the new millennium, Tom is incensed by how China is so misunderstood, particularly in American media. Tom’s neighbors – the Joneses – are a young family trying to keep their children safe when a series of Chinese toy recalls forces them to have their son tested for lead poisoning.
Devising a plan to put American fears of China in context, Tom challenges his neighbors to go through the Christmas season without any Chinese products. Taking on the consumer mission-impossible, the Joneses discover that they’re giving up not just their toys, plates, lamps, and clothes, but the beloved hair dryer, coffeemaker, X-Box, and most of their Christmas decorations.
Meanwhile down the street, Tom’s parents are finishing construction on their new home, using Chinese materials to proudly build their American dream. As the challenge intensifies and Christmas Day approaches, Tom and the Joneses enter into a heated cultural interchange in which Tom finds himself challenged by the Joneses to confront his own identity. Forced to filter through cultural misconceptions, Tom’s family and the Joneses wrestle with our American drive to consume cheap products from China and find common ground as Tom celebrates his first Christmas around their tree.
FESTIVALS & AWARDS:
Xmas Without China premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2013, where Pulitzer Prize-winning James V. Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal called the film ”a surprising, sweet, funny documentary that provokes without sermons.” Continuing on to play at festivals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Telluride, Aspen, Edmonton and NYC, Xmas Without China also won a “Best Comedy” award at the 2013 Friar’s Club Film Festival, a “People’s Choice” award at Wild & Scenic Film Festival and “Best Environmental Theme” award at Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival.
- SXSW Film Festival
- Film Society of Lincoln Center – Green Screen Series
- Friars Club Comedy Film Festival – “Best Comedy” Award
- Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival – People’s Choice Award
- Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival – Best Environmental Theme Award
- Edmonton International Film Festival
- Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
- MountainFilm Festival, Telluride
- MountainFilm Festival, Aspen
- Topanga Film Festival 2013
- Cucalorus Film Festival
- Sierra Nevada Film Festival
- LifeTree Film Festival, Loveland, CO