Sunday, June 15, 2014

SF DocFest: Jingle Bell Rocks!

Friday night at SF DocFest, I saw Jingle Bell Rocks!, an unexpectedly sincere look at record collectors & musicians lovingly obsessed with Christmas music. It starts with Canadian filmmaker Mitchell Kezin himself, seen at the top of the film manically tearing through bins of Christmas CD & LPs at the Los Angeles Amoeba. He has no interest in parodies or songs that mock the holiday. He's in pursuit of the genuinely earnest, be it about the sadness & disappointment of the season, the Vietnam War & racism, or UFOs & nuclear missiles.

We see Mr. Kezin crossing the United States & Canada, interviewing collectors, producers, radio personalities & musicians, all of whom sound like they are talking comfortably with an old friend. John Waters points out to his visitors the Christmas decorations adorning his electric chair, & Run DMC describes sampling Clarence Carter's naughty "Back Door Santa" for "Christmas in Hollis." I found musician Wayne Coyne to be a strangely captivating speaker. It's delightful to see Mr. Kezin give his interviewees a wrapped Christmas present at the end of his visits.

Festival programmer Jennifer Morris advised the audience to wait for an outtake placed at the end of the closing credits. Mr. Kezin attended the screening, & about a dozen people remained for the Q&A afterward. We learned that the film took 8 years from conception to completion, partly because Mr. Kezin realized that he got the best interviews when talking with his subjects during the holiday season, so he would sometimes have to wait a whole year to film them. As I entered the theater, I was randomly selected to receive a poster for the movie, which the genial Mr. Kezin signed for me after the show. The movie plays again at the festival on Monday night.

§ Jingle Bell Rocks!
Dir: Mitchell Kezin, 2013, Canada, 93 mins.

SF DocFest 2014
OSA, Sun, Jun 8, 7:15p
Roxie Theatre, Fri, Jun 13 9:15 PM
Roxie Theatre, Mon, Jun 16 9:15 PM

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