Doc the Halls: 5 heart-warming Christmas documentaries to watch this season
Had enough of the snow-covered fantasy lands and melodramatic yarns so frequently associated with Christmas programming? How about something a bit more ‘real’? As we’re big fans of documentaries, we thought we’d share with you, our precious readers, some of our favourite alternatives to the fictional Christmas fare. With Santa Claus, Christmas trees and the North Pole in tow, these documentaries are nevertheless filled with oodles of fun, festive spirit. Go on, check ’em out!
Wood of Value (2010)
Bjørn Ståle Bratberg
From the director of numerous music videos for artists such as Noah and the Whale, Franz Ferdinand, and even Charlie Simpson, this beautiful documentary observes a tree’s journey from deep in the Norwegian forest to London’s bustling Trafalgar Square, as part of Norway’s annual tradition to send a Christmas tree to Britain, in appreciation of her aid in the Second World War. This 16-minute little beauty won the title of Best Documentary Short at the 2011 Minghella Film Festival, and also scored an Award of Excellence at the 2010 Los Angeles Movie Awards. Imagine it to the soundtrack of the Lisa Log song from The Simpsons.
Letters to Santa (2009)
Short but very, very sweet, this 30-minute film takes us to North Pole, Alaska, where tens of thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus from around the world end up each year at Christmas time. The documentary introduces us to the teams of Alaskan volunteers who dedicate their time to answering these letters from hopeful children.
Becoming Santa (2011)
Featured in the 2011 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, this touching film follows the journey of Jack Sanderson – a man who saw Christmas as a burden following the death of his father, before he decided to do a one-eighty and embrace the holiday to the fullest, by studying to become a department store Santa Claus. A beautiful story about the powers of belief.
Christmas in a Day (2013)
From the Oscar-winning director behind Life in a Day, the documentary compiling video contributions from 80,000 people around the world, this Scott Free production works on a smaller scale, showing how ordinary families from across the UK celebrate Christmas, as filmed via their hand-held video cameras or smartphones. You’ll probably recognise one scene in particular, in which a family receives a surprise when recording a video Christmas message for their father serving in Afghanistan.
With his unique ability to scope out the world’s most weird and wonderful, a much younger-looking Theroux spends a strange Christmas with some of the more outrageous stars of his Weird Weekends series, including born again Christians, aliens, porn stars, and hardcore survivalists.
Stay tuned for more Christmas programming on TVDaily.com!