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Reviewed by Dan Solomon, March 15, 2013, Screens

Xmas Without China

Documentary Spotlight, World premiere
D: Alicia Dwyer; with Tom Xia

While the premise comes off as gimmicky at first blush – a Chinese immigrant in California challenges his American neighbors to spend the Christmas season without purchasing or keeping any Chinese-made products in their home – Xmas Without China is a more honest and searching film than its Roger & Me-by-way-of-Super Size Me setup might suggest. Directed by Alicia Dwyer, featuring Tom Xia, and co-produced by both, the film is an exploration of not just the role of Chinese-made goods in American consumption, but also of the immigrant experience and the ethics of documentary filmmaking. The Jones family, who accepts Xia's challenge, are charming and likable (the kids treat the contest like a game), and Xia's own parents raise important questions about the ethics of pursuing this sort of documentary during an American family's Christmas celebration. At only an hour in length, Xmas Without China doesn't provide much in the way of answers, but the questions it asks are plenty thoughtful.

Saturday, March 16, 4pm, Alamo Ritz

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