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Becoming Santa A man decides to re-invent himself (at least for a few weeks) as a right jolly old elf in this documentary from director Jeff Myers. Jack Sanderson is a stocky, middle-aged man who has worked in the film business for years as an actor, producer and personal assistant. However, one year he gets the idea to add something new to his resume -- playing Santa Claus. Sanderson decides to find out what it's like to impersonate Santa for a living, not to mention giving himself a dose of Christmas spirit after losing several close family members. Sanderson grows out his beard, dyes it white, gets a custom-made Santa suit, and goes to Denver for a crash course at the American Events Santa School, where Susen Mesco has been turning ordinary guys into Kris Kringle for years. Diploma in hand, Sanderson lands a few gigs as Santa, ranging from ringing a bell for the Volunteers of America on a New York City street corner to dealing with a train full of fussy kids aboard a "Polar Express" in New Jersey. Along the way, Sanderson learns a lot about the history of Santa Claus and how he took on the image we know today, as well as meeting a number of other Santas and discovering the ups and downs of one of the world's most remarkable seasonal occupations. Becoming Santa received its world premiere at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
You WILL Believe In BECOMING SANTA
Posted by: EdwardLee from: Flack, Spain on
A Holiday Treat for the Child In Each of Us!
Jack Sanderson is on a mission. After he unearths a picture of his recently deceased father dressed up as Santa Claus, he wants to know more about why his ‘old man’ played St. Nick. He can no longer ask his father, so the curiosity soon begins to get the best of him. Was it out of a duty or an obligation? Did he lose a bet? Why would his father of all people -- not a particularly jolly fellow, as Jack can recall – agree to play Santa? He never seemed all that jolly or jovial to Jack, so what possessed the elder man to do it? Was it some big mystery, or was the man simply looking for some way to recapture the magical spirit of the holiday season? Jack’s mission is to ‘become Santa’ for a single Christmas season, hoping that he can discover what impulse may’ve propelled his father to do it so many years before … but Jack ends up perhaps discovering that he’s missed out on more than just an old family secret.
Thus begins the magical and delightful BECOMING SANTA, a documentary that details Jack’s journey to serve as the ultimate holiday fat man. From his humble (and smelly!) beginnings of bleaching his beard, mustache, and hair a pure white all the way to showing up by appointment in several homes on Christmas Eve where children are briefly allowed to spot Santa Claus placing presents under the Christmas Tree, Jack embraces his new mission, and he learns a little about himself and what truly makes the yuletide gay along the way. He has a custom Santa suit tailored to his body; he attends a ‘Santa School’ to get training on how to deal with children; and he even volunteers to play St. Nick on the Susquehanna Railroad’s ‘Polar Express’!
Smartly, the documentary is balanced between Jack’s quest and other popular Santas who inform the viewer on a multitude of topics, including the historical origins of the Santa popularized today. The film is chocked full of a wonderful history detailing the holidays, coupled with Jack’s heartfelt discovery of just how significant a role Claus plays in the lives of countless families across the world. There’s far more to learn about the man and the season than anyone can imagine, and the audience comes along with Jack as he discovers that dressing up in a red suit is only the easy part. Rekindling peace, love, and tenderness alongside a healthy giving spirit during the holiday season turns out to be a full-time, life-altering decision!
Simply put, BECOMING SANTA is not unlike a Christmas gift: you’re not too sure what you’re getting yourself into by opening it, but, once you’re there, you’re swimming in the magic! The film is an unexpected pleasure – an easy holiday treat – for young and old alike. It’s the kind of film that can be shared by families through the ages. It isn’t crass or commercial in the slightest, as some Xmas exposes can be, but it reminds us that what matters most in the ‘silly season’ is the simple belief that giving is vastly more rewarding than receiving. This documentary doesn’t have a naughty bone in its body! There probably is no better primer for preparing for the holidays – certainly, there isn’t any film better for nurturing the budding Santas in each of us! – and this feature will definitely become a staple in our household in the years ahead. It’s warm and heartfelt with just the right chemistry between Jack and his audience, and it comes with my highest recommendation.
In the interests of fairness, I am pleased to share that the holly ol’ folks at Cinema Libre Studios graciously provided me with a screener DVD of the film for the purpose of writing this review.
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