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Jingle Bell Rocks!

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Director Biography

Founded in 2008 by filmmaker Mitchell Kezin, mabooshi film company is an independent production company devoted to creating provocative, socially-conscious cinema for television, theatrical and other multimedia platforms.

Mitchell Kezin is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design.
His first film Steam: A journey aboard the Royal Hudson won Best Short documentary at the 1993 Montreal World Film Festival and was acquired for the permanent collection of the National Archives of Canada.

His feature, Haro, had its world premiere in the Panorama Canada section at The Montreal World Film Festival the following year.

In 1999 Mitchell received the Telefilm Canada/National Screen Institute Drama Prize for the short film Dissonance, which he co-wrote, produced, and directed. Dissonance had its World Premier at the 2000 Local Heroes film Festival and later had its television premiere on CBC’s Canadian Reflections. Dissonance has screened at festivals around the world, including MOSFEST film festival in Moscow, Russia and SUPERFEST XXI (Media Festival on Disability) in Berkeley, California, where it won a special Award of Achievement for Writing and Direction.

Mitchell first feature music doc, Jingle Bell Rocks! about underground Christmas music had its World Premiere at IDFA in November 2013.

Jingle Bell Rocks! was released theatrically across Canada that same year and in the USA by New York based Oscilloscope Laboratories, where it screened in over 30 festivals and had a theatrical run in 48 states, before being released on DVD & VOD and AXS TV. Over the past 18 mths, Jingle Bell Rocks! has won numerous awards, including one of Canada's most prestigious, the Golden Sheaf Best of Fest at the 2014 Yorkton Int'l Film Festival as well as their Emerging Filmmaker Award; and the film just received two nominations for Canada's highest film honours, the Canadian Screen Awards.

Mitchell has several fiction and non-fiction films in development: Two newest projects are 3, Is A Magic Number: The Music & Moxie of Bob Dorough featuring the legendary bebop singer & songwriter of Schoolhouse Rocks! Fame); Born To Be King about Calypso giant Slinger Francisco aka The Mighty Sparrow.

He is also writing an original feature-length screenplay, The Sound of
Being Watched with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Mitchell is an alumni of the IDFAcademy Summer School 2009 (Amsterdam), the Berlinale Talent Campus 2005 (an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival), the Canadian Screen Training Centre, The National Screen Institute and the inaugural Hot Doc's DOC LAB 2006.

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Director Statement

I first fell in love with Christmas music at the age of five. It was December of 1968 and — like many households around North America — our family was listening to Nat ‘King’ Cole. But what captivated me wasn’t his “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” but the flipside, an obscure Yuletide melody called “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot”.

Its a sombre song, about a young boy, who's fatherless, and alone, at Christmas time. And because of his circumstance, for some reason, Santa actually passes him by.

The notion that Santa could forget anyone, let alone a child like me, was terrifying. Between choruses, Cole’s rich baritone delivers several spoken word stanzas and it was hearing these — for the very first time — that made me feel as if he was right there in the room, speaking (and singing) directly to me.

This particular Christmas season coincided with the crumbling of my parents’ marriage and I became obsessed with the idea that, like Santa, Nat King Cole had some magical insight into my own life and that if I listened to the record hard enough, or long enough, I'd come to understand my predicament more clearly.

Not grasping the fact that Nat’s soliloquy was actually a pre-recorded track, I pestered my mother to play the record over and over again, day after day, hoping to find out how the boy’s story, and my own, would end.

Skip forward twenty years and the magical appeal of Christmas music became a full-fledged mania when, in a flea market, I discovered Miles Davis’s “Blue Xmas (To Whom it May Concern)” featuring caustic vocals by Bob Dorough — who also wrote the tune.

This mid-’60s bebop classic put a decidedly unsentimental spin on the season. And the idea that someone would be critical of Christmas, especially in a song, was a revelation to me.

The funny thing is, for a long time, I hated Christmas music. It was either really cheesy, or it conjured up a holiday experience that was impossible to achieve.

It also seemed that the true spirit of Christmas was getting lost, …

I was desperate to hear some music that was honest and real.

So when I stumbled on “Blue Xmas”, I was blown away. And I just knew there had to be more…so I started hunting…

As I began to uncover track after track of hip, heartfelt and irreverent music, I also found a community of musicians and fellow collectors who shared my passion.

Jingle Bell Rocks! is our story.