“It’s a story about differences in tolerance but wrapped up in a Christmas bundle”: Becky Read on ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas
Do not be fooled by the festive-themed title and opening scenes of Becky Read’s ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas: far from sitting in the fuzzy-feeling-inducing realms of Home Alone, the film’s sense of small-town cheer very quickly descends into something more sinister when one man’s unstoppable desire to host a Christmas spectacle at his home every year creates a labyrinth of controversy, threats and court cases.
This is Read’s first feature-length documentary as director, and although it seems a world away from the tough subject matter of her previous work, such as The News of the World phone-hacking scandal and the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Jim Foley, it takes the viewers to unexpected places. While at times it’s lighthearted and darkly comic, with jingles playing out in the background, at others it unfolds with the seriousness and tension of a thriller. It cleverly constantly subverts not only genre but who the audience feels empathy with, and, as the narrative unfurls, this seemingly innocuous all-American neighbourhood quarrel becomes a microcosm for the polarised nature of our society, raising questions about where one person’s right to freedom ends and the next person’s begins.
We had a chat with Read about how she came to make a documentary about the feud, the journey she took to gain the trust of her subjects and the broader themes she thinks it uncovers.
‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas is released on Apple TV+ on 26th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas here: