Thursday, December 12, 2013
Purple State of John
Thoughts of a wordslinger…
by John Priddy
We are proud to present the third Windy Wednesday film in our “Windrider WinterFest” series: Christmas Wish List by Sean Overbeeke. With this highly acclaimed, 15-minute, family-friendly film (suitable for all ages), we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
“The true gift of Christmas: Presence, not presents”
- Monika Moreno, Director Angelus Student Film Festival
A Brief Synopsis:
Christmas Wish List won the 2005 Angelus Student Film Festival’s Priddy Bros. Triumph Award, in part because it packs a “stockingfull” of emotion, meaning and humor into just a few minutes and includes an unexpected twist to boot (Santa’s boot, of course)! After a fast-talking New York lawyer refuses to help a homeless man, a young doctor in a small Southern town decides to show the lawyer the true meaning of Christmas. The film’s holiday blend of wit, wisdom and romance, captured the gold medal for narrative film at the Student Academy Awards, and led to screenings at a number of major festivals.
My Personal Connection to the Film:
I don’t remember every film festival jury I’ve sat on (too many to count, I think), but I do remember that fall day in 2005, when I first watched Christmas Wish List. Overbeeke’s film was a finalist for our Triumph Award at Angelus that year, and the competition was stiff. The voting was unusually fast and easy (rarely the case with Angelus jurors), and it was unanimous (never the case with Angelus jurors). In fact, juror Steve McEveety (producer of Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, et al) said that if the film were available, he would “option it as a feature” right then and there.
Overbeeke, at 23, was still an undergraduate filmmaker; most of the competing filmmakers were much more experienced graduate students. But then, Overbeeke “got” something seemingly beyond his years: The consumerism and superficiality of the then-current economic boom was starting to fray — at least in the mind and art of this young filmmaker. Christmas Wish List was a story told simply yet exquisitely (my favorite blend), and went on to win gold at the 2006 Student Academy Awards. As 2009 draws to a close, I find I am viewing this film in retrospective now, through the lens of last year’s economic bust. Talk about relevant!
At first look, this “true meaning of Christmas” tale seems familiar enough, as an arrogant businessman tries to bully his way into the affections of a young physician, while forced to spend Christmas Eve in Podunk, USA. But Overbeeke’s film never becomes cloying or sanctimonious. He provides a genuinely pleasing resolution that shows a poker player’s gift for hiding a winning hand until the showdown. Like all the best Windrider films, Christmas Wish List digs beneath life’s surface. It challenges us to look back to a more “embarrassing” time in our culture — one filled with greed, misguided priorities and a hyper-focus on self that has hopefully passed us by for awhile. (At least until the next economic boom!)
Overbeeke grew up in Enfield, Connecticut. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, with a bachelor’s degree in communications and screenwriting. He is now working as the series producer, writer and director for TLC’s 17 Kids and Counting and is developing his first feature film from his home in Los Angeles.
His many credits include:
“The Priddy Brothers Windrider Forum is a wonderful venue for young filmmakers who want to promote positive films that showcase the human spirit.”
- Sean Overbeeke
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