Jingle Bell Rocks! is a personal cinematic trip through the dust bins of the alternative Christmas music universe.

Mitchell Kezin is a Christmas music junkie. He has been ever since he was a little boy. But we’re not talking about Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey or Wham. Instead, Kezin has searched the world for the best original, alternative Christmas music – songs that embrace our modern, eclectic, conflicted approach to Yuletide celebrations. Now a filmmaker, Kezin decides to bring his obsession to the screen by going on a road trip through the United States and Canada, on a quest to unearth the stories behind 12 of the wildest, weirdest and most poignant Christmas songs you’ve likely never heard.

 

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Along the way, he visits with musical legends and some lesser knowns, from The Free Design to Run DMC’s Joseph Simmons to the The Flaming Lips’s Wayne Coyne, and connects with kindred Christmas spirits, music critics, radio DJs and obsessed collectors, like filmmaker John Waters and legendary musicologist Dr. Demento, all of whom help to paint a kaleidoscopic picture of the flipside of Christmas music.

With titles like “Christmas in Vietnam” and “Santa Claus Was a Black Man,” it’s clear that these songs echo social developments by singing out against racism, war, violence or consumerism.

British Film Institute BFI review

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