SXSW ’11: Becoming Santa – Review


Charming documentary makes SXSW believe in Santa

Have you ever been out and seen an old man with a long white beard and just for a moment, felt like a giddy little kid and thought, “It’s SANTA!” Well that jolly old man might just be a Santa. Director Jeff Myers’ humorous documentary takes us through the grueling process of one man’s journey at Becoming Santa.

Jack Sanderson is a single man who has lost both of his parents. He tells us that in order to bring some joy back into his holiday season, he’s decided to become a Santa. We follow him as he attends Santa School in Denver, taught by a woman who is most likely certifiably insane. She gets emotional when talking about how important Santa is to children; and the camera pans to Jack perfectly capturing his puzzled reactions.

It’s Jack’s witty take on the whole process that makes the film so endearing. His first gig as Santa is as a volunteer on the Polar Express. When he talks about his experience, he likens screaming babies to “greased pigs.” “Parents, do you actually like your children?” he explains as we see him trying to cheerfully pose for a picture with a writhing, screaming infant on his lap.

Scattered throughout Santa Jack’s mayhem are insights into Santa folklore, given by other gentlemen whose chosen career is Santa Claus. They energetically explain the Santa mythos from around the world. One person says that believing in Santa is holding onto believing in the goodness and kindness of humanity. Having just won the Audience Award, it’s safe to say that Becoming Santa has lifted the spirits and renewed hope to all of SXSW. This charming documentary is one to seek out and find when it gets a release.

Director: Jeff Myers
Notable Cast: Jack Sanderson
Writer(s): Jack Sanderson

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