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Top 5 Christmas documentaries to get into the spirit of the season

In the spirit of Christmas we thought it would be nice to give you some alternatives to Home Alone, A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Therefore today a list with what we consider the ultimate five Christmas documentaries.

After asking around on Twitter people gave us suggestions with what they considered the best  docs out there. These documentaries do not necessarily involve Santa and elves (although most do) but they are certainly all in the spirit of Christmas. Some sad, some funny, all good.

How about Christmas With Dad, a 30 min documentary by Conor McCormack which was recommended to us by Guy Loftus. The film follows AJ, a 23 year old preparing for the arrival of his eighth child. AJ is a young man struggling to define his role as a father, haunted by his own childhood. He and his ever growing family live on a sprawling council estate on the outskirts of Bristol: an area plagued by unemployment, drugs and anti-social behaviour. The family home is full of noise and conflict as seven children compete for space, but amid the chaos young lives are forming. Gradually, unexpected details reveal not only AJ’s troubled past, but an uncertain future. You can watch the full documentary here on YouTube.

We also got The Monastery: Mr Vig and the Nun by Pernille Rose Gronkjer recommended to us – a film, not about Christmas but about dreams and how they sometimes should remain dreams. The fact that Mr Vig looks a bit like Santa himself adds to our ranking of this being a Christmas doc, but moreover it is about the spirit of giving and receiving, and of dreams and hope that gave it fourth place in our top five.

Then, back to traditional items, Wood Of Value, by Bjorn Bratberg, is an observational documentary of a tree’s journey from the forests of Norway to Trafalgar Square in London. The annual tradition of transporting a Christmas tree across the North Sea has been running for more than 60 years in appreciation of British aid during the Second World War. The documentary depicts the journey and the people who assist the tree on its way. Watch the beautiful trailer here.

Number two on our list is Becoming Santa by Jeff Myers, which entered many festivals this year amongst which the Canadian HotDocs.  The film follows Jack Sanderson, who realized that after his father’s death he was no looking forward to the holiday but instead saw it as a burden. He had only two choices, avoid it entirely or dive into the deepest part of the Christmas pool. In such a commercial culture avoiding it seemed impossible, so Jack decided the best way to get through Christmas was to be the eye of the Christmas season storm. Jack would become Santa Claus and do as many of the things Santa is asked to do as possible.

Now, you might think that is already sickeningly sweet, but how about this? Our total Christmas winner is Letters to Santa.  The documentary by Kaleb Yates shows what happens each year in North Pole, Alaska, where teams of volunteers gather to answer the tens of thousands of  letters that have been sent to Santa by kids full of hope.

And if this doesn’t get you in the spirit then all hope is lost for you – turn on Home Alone!


Written by

Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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