Directed by Alicia Dwyer • Documentary • 2013 • 63 minutes
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.