Three generations of an Italian American family come together as they realize that sometimes the best way to say “I love you” is to say “goodbye.”
Xmas Without China
Pride and mischief inspire Chinese immigrant Tom Xia to challenge his American neighbors to celebrate Christmas without Chinese products.
- Premiere Date
- November 11, 2013
- 60 minutes
- Funding Initiative
- Open Call
Alicia Dwyer directed Xmas Without China, a documentary for PBS following a Chinese immigrant who challenged an American family to celebrate Christmas with no Chinese products. In spring of 2012, the film Bully, for which Dwyer directed key material with the main character, appeared in… theaters nationwide, distributed by The Weinstein Company. Dwyer was a director on The Calling, a four-hour PBS series that was a flagship of the 2010 Independent Lens season. She was associate producer of the 2004 Emmy Award-nominated HBO series Pandemic: Facing AIDS, and of the 2001 Academy Award-winning feature documentary Into the Arms of Strangers. Dwyer helped start Veracity Productions, an independent production company making cinema and media content for PBS, The Jim Henson Company, The New York Times Magazine Online, Oprah.com, The California Endowment, and a variety of nonprofit organizations. Dwyer studied German and politics at Princeton, and received her MFA in film production from USC.
Tom Xia is originally from Harbin, China, but moved at age eight to California. In addition to being the producer and protagonist of Xmas Without China, Tom was a director/producer of four episodes of Oceans Away. This 13-episode series about the lives of Chinese exchange students living… and studying in the United States aired in 2008 on CCTV (Chinese Central National Television) to more than 500 million viewers. Previously, Tom directed Peony Pavilion – Young Lover's Edition, an hour-long documentary following internationally acclaimed writer Pai Hsien-Yong along with his Chinese Youth Opera Troupe as they perform a revival of a Chinese opera classic Peony Pavilion for an American audience. Tom also directed An Elephant in the Pink Tutu, a documentary short about how a new wave of Chinese immigrants changes the way of life in Arcadia, California as they construct million dollar McMansions where ranch houses once stood.
Juli Vizza is an award-winning producer and editor. She won an Emmy Award for editing the 2002 Winter Olympics at NBC, and has since been working as a producer for nonfiction and fiction film, television, commercials, and music videos. Vizza has produced films that premiered at the Sundance, Berlin,… and TriBeCa film festivals, and aired on Showtime and PBS. At Sony Pictures Entertainment, she worked on publicity campaigns for The DaVinci Code for the U.S. and international markets, as well as the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and other films including Stranger Than Fiction, Quantum of Solace and Angels & Demons. Vizza is co-producing and editing the feature length documentary for PBS, Xmas Without China.
Working as a producer-cinematographer at Veracity Productions in Los Angeles, Michael Dwyer bridges the divide between documentary and fiction filmmaking. Dwyer's recent narrative credits include the 3D short, Memory Erasers, shot in Japan and directed by Ken Ochiai (Tiger Mask), the upcoming mystery-comedy… feature The Sound & The Shadow, and Intersect, starring Troian Bellisario, of Pretty Little Liars. On the documentary side, Dwyer's work as a producer-cinematographer can be seen in Lee Hirsch's Bully, and Xmas Without China. As a commWorking as a producer-cinematographer at Veracity Productions in Los Angeles, Michael Dwyer bridges the divide between documentary and fiction filmmaking. Dwyer's recent narrative credits include the 3D short, Memory Erasers, shot in Japan and directed by Ken Ochiai (Tiger Mask), the mystery-comedy feature The Sound & The Shadow, and Intersect, starring Troian Bellisario, of Pretty Little Liars. On the documentary side, Dwyer's work as a producer-cinematographer can be seen in Lee Hirsch's Bully, and Xmas Without China. As a commercial cinematographer, Dwyer has worked on campaigns for Adidas, Facebook, and The Salvation Army, as well as the “Shellphone” spots for Royal Caribbean, which aired during the 2012 Superbowl. Notable past work includes filming Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu in the Solomon Islands, the video component to Digital Darkroom, the 2010 Independent Lens four-hour series on religion in America (The Calling), the Fonzworth Bentley 2008 BET Spotlight Video of the Year, Everybody (featuring Kanye West and André 3000), and Local Voices for Obama— a series of award-winning ads that aired in swing states leading up to the presidential election. With experience shooting everywhere from Gaza to Iowa to Kyrgyzstan, Dwyer brings a global perspective to his company and its projects. Dwyer lives in Los Angeles and is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Exploring the intersection of consumerism and immigration in American culture, Xmas Without China is an intimate portrait of families wrestling with our drive to consume cheap products, but also with our desire for human connection and a sense of who we are in a fast-changing world.
Pride and mischief inspire Chinese immigrant Tom Xia to challenge the Americans in his Southern California suburb to celebrate Christmas without any Chinese products. With deep ties to his extended family back home, Tom is incensed by how he considers China is misunderstood, particularly by the American media. But he gets more than he bargains for when he meets the Joneses, a young family trying to keep their children safe as a wave of Chinese toy recalls forces them to have their son tested for lead poisoning.
The Joneses start to give up not just toys, plates, lamps, and clothes, but the beloved hair dryer, coffeemaker, X-Box, and many Christmas decorations, challenging the way they live everyday life and how they celebrate Christmas. Meanwhile, Tom's parents are constructing a new home, proudly using Chinese materials to build their American dream. As they decorate for Christmas for the first time and the interactions between the Xias and the Joneses intensify, Tom realizes that he’s on a deeper journey to understand the complexities of his own divided loyalties between America and China.