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Qatar, Belgium, France, Germany, Serbia, Sweden, 2020

Production : Horopter Film Production, Sisyfos Film Production

Programmed by Aurora Prelević


English, French



Communist ideals have long lost their value in Yiwu, a city with 600 Christmas factories, in which Christmas as we know it is produced for the entire world. With rising wages, the workers in Christmas factories can now afford the newest iPhones, but they still live in crowded dormitories. All migrants in their own country, nostalgic for some place far away, some miss their families left in hometowns, other miss their friends and lovers from the factories when they go home for holidays. The younger generation is already tired of long factory hours, chemical fumes, and glitter particles, and they do not care for their parents’ wishes to get educated. Stuck in between Chinese tradition and the newly discovered Chinese dream, they want their own businesses, to be rich, to be independent, to be in love.

A word from Tënk

They call me the grinch in the office. This year, I finally found a film that speaks to my seemingly inexplicable holiday angst and alienation in resonant tones: Mladen Kovačević has crafted a sensitive and sensorial ode to the workers of Yiwu, a Chinese coastal city that houses the largest concentration of factories on earth producing Christmas decorations for export. In the sweaty summer heat south of Shanghai in a city of close to 3 million inhabitants, largely populated by migrant labour from all over China, real human elves come to shimmer multicoloured glitter across factory floors and stick thousands of pom poms onto Santa hats all day long in order to create “magic” in some unseen world elsewhere.



Kovačević lends an attentive, listening ear so that we get to bear witness to the songs that the workers sing while they labour, to share in their boredom to the point of frustration that emerges while packing endless balls into cellophane, and to enter into their intimate moments of drink and despair as they philosophize together on love lost, longing for connection, isolation from family, the meaning of home and belonging, the value of work. This mindful, sparkly, and tender tale just might more clearly reveal the underpinnings of the pseudo-spiritual marketing of togetherness of “the season” than any in-depth analysis of the concept of alienated labour might. With stunning, sprawling imagery paired with real human emotion and storytelling, Merry Christmas, Yiwu shines. It is the antidote to any grinch’s Christmas.






Aurora Prelević
Writer, performance maker, cinephile




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