A Film by Mitchell Kezin.

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About Jingle Bell Rocks

In JINGLE BELL ROCKS!, director Mitchell Kezin delves into the minds of some of the world’s most legendary Christmas music fanatics and hits the road to hang with his holiday heroes – including hip hop legend Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons of RUN-D.M.C., The Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne, filmmaker John Waters, bebopper Bob Dorough, L.A. DJ and musicologist Dr. Demento, and Calypso legend The Mighty Sparrow. In his search for the twelve best, underappreciated Christmas songs ever recorded, Kezin both asks and answers the question, “Why, when Christmas rolls around, are we still stuck cozying up with Bing Crosby under a blanket of snow?”

Equal parts social history, pop culture pilgrimage, and revealing character study, JINGLE BELL ROCKS! follows this motley crew of merry misfits as they confront the Christmas music mainstream, reinventing the seasonal soundtrack for the 21st century. With rollicking live performances, intimate interviews, and a kaleidoscope of touching and rare archive footage, JINGLE BELL ROCKS! is a cinematic sleigh-ride into the strange and sublime universe of alternative Christmas music. It’s also a mix-tape of twelve of the weirdest, wildest, most poignant Christmas songs you’ve never heard.

Subjects + Filmmakers

  • Mitchell Kezin - Director/Producer
    Mitchell Kezin is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design. His first short documentary Steam won Best Short at Montreal World Film Festival (1993) and is housed in the Canadian Museum of History's permanent collection. His feature drama, Haro, had its world premiere there the following year. In 1999, Mitchell received the Telefilm Canada/NSI Drama Prize for the short Dissonance, which won the top prize for Writing and Direction at SUPERFEST XXI in Berkeley, CA. Jingle Bell Rocks! Is his first feature film. It had its World Premiere at the prestigious IDFA (Amsterdam) and won Best World doc award at Whistler International Film Fest (2013) and two Golden Sheaf Awards “Best of Fest” & “Emerging Filmmaker” (two of Canada's highest film prizes) from the Yorkton Film Festival in May 2014. Jingle Bell Rocks! Will be released theatrically across the USA this Christmas from venerable New York distribution co Oscilloscope Laboratories. He still believes in Santa Claus.
  • John Waters - Subject
    John Waters is a filmmaker, author and photographer. John Waters became famous as "the pope of trash" (William Burroughs) and the "king of suburban exploitation" Waters' work shows "gleeful irreverence and appreciation of the American grotesque." His films, photos and writings make the transition from underground to mainstream without losing their aesthetic integrity. Among his best known films: Mondo Trasho, Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Divine, Serial Mom, Pecker, and Cecil B. Demented. Author of Shock Value; Crackpot (recently reissued); Trash Trio; Director's Cut; Art: A Sex Book.
  • Bill Adler - Subject
    Bill Adler was the director of publicity for Def Jam Recordings and Rush Artist Management from 1984 through 1990, when he promoted the careers of hip-hop legends Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, 3rd Bass, and Slick Rick, and many others. Between 2003 and 2007 he was the owner and curator of the Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery, an exhibition space devoted to hip hop’s visual arts. In 2008 he and Cey Adams co-authored “DEFinition: the Art and Design of Hip-Hop.” He has produced “Christmas Jollies” annually since 1984.
  • Andy Cirzan - Subject
    Andy is VP of Jam Productions Ltd, one of the largest independent concert promoters in North America. Andy is also the godfather of Christmas music collectors and possesses several thousand of the strangest, weirdest, most obscure Christmas singles around. Andy’s odd and amazing collection includes everything from the strange, surreal world of Christmas Song Poems to the holy grail of Xmas singles The Free Design’s impossible to find anti-war single, “Shepherds and Wisemen” from an obscure U.S. Navy recruitment LP. Andy’s annual handcrafted Xmas CD compilation Further Adventures in Holiday Obscura featuring titles like “Santa Claus Soundscapes” “Off in the Christmas Cosmos” and “Séance with Santa”, is a much sought after industry item.
  • James Austin - Subject
    James is VP of A and R at Rhino Records, universally regarded as the coolest record label around, this L.A. based company supports the most interesting, eclectic and electrifying music across many genres. A self-confessed Christmas music nut, James has not only produced all of Rhino’s holiday releases Hillbilly Holiday, Bummed Out Christmas, Mambo Santa Mambo, Hipsters’ Holiday: Vocal Jazz and RB Classics, The Best of Cool Yule and dozens more, but he painted the funky artwork for them as well.
  • Phil Kline - Subject
    Kline’s signature boombox composition UNSILENT NIGHT debuted on the sidewalks of Greenwich Village in 1992 and is now a cult holiday tradition. It has spread to cities like Baltimore, Charleston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Francisco, as well as Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Vancouver), Germany (Berlin), the UK (Middlesborough), Australia (Sydney), and the Yukon. A public Christmas-time parade of hundreds of participants carrying boomboxes through city streets, UNSILENT NIGHT builds a peaceful, multi-dimensional sound environment of otherworldly voices and bells. Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times: “It immerses a listener in suspended wonderment, as if time itself had paused within a string of jingling sleigh bells.”
  • David Wisdom - Subject
    is a Canadian radio icon who hosted a slew of amazing late-night radio programs over the past 30 years. David’s annual Christmas specials were filled with some of the strangest holiday music ever performed or heard. Songs that were unsentimental, satirical, and sometimes even sincere, but that collectively told a far funnier, darker and more honest Christmas story.
  • Wayne Coyne - Subject
    Wayne Coyne is the founder of the influential American rock band The Flaming Lips, based in Oklahoma City, OK. In addition to releasing 16 albums with The Flaming Lips, Coyne is also the writer and director of the Sci-Fi Holiday classic, "Christmas on Mars."
  • Joseph "Rev Run DMC" Simmons - Subject
    Joseph "Rev Run DMC" Simmons is one of the founding members of the seminal 1980s hiphop masters RUN D.M.C. Together with Jason William Mizell (a.k.a. Jam-Master Jay, DJ Jazzy Jase) and Darryl Matthews McDaniels (a.k.a. DMC, Easy D, Darryl Mac) the three exploded exploded out of Hollis, Queens, in 1983, changing the sound of rap music, street fashion and popular culture in general.
  • Bob Dorough - Subject
    Pianist, singer and composer Bob Dorough knows no generation gap. At 84 years old he’s still touring and packing houses all over the world. Dorough embodies the voice of the modern hipster, with his distinctive reed-like tone, bebop inspired melodies and clever, off-beat lyrics. Dorough holds the distinction of being the ONLY vocalist ever to appear on a Miles Davis record. And that song, “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)” also written by Dorough, is one of the hippest, and most scathing, Christmas tunes ever recorded.
  • Clarence Carter- Subject
    Clarence is a legendary soul singer whose career has spanned over five decades, including the hit songs “Slip Away,” “Too Weak to Fight,” “Snatching It Back,” “Making Love (At the Dark End of the Street),” “The Feeling Is Right,” “Doing Our Thing,” and “Patches,” all for famed label Atlantic Records.
  • Chris Dedrick and the Free Design - Subject
    released seven albums between 1967 and 1973. Chris, Bruce, Sandy and Ellen Dedrick were brothers and sisters with harmonic and melodious singing styles. The sound of Free Design is modern, rich orchestration with a choral approach to pop, simultaneously nostalgic and bracingly fresh. Although the band remained obscure and unnoticed by the media it is not strange that nowadays bands such as Cornelius, Stereolab, Pizzicato Five, Blueboy, Gentle People, Louis Philippe and Tomorrow’s World, have found a source of inspiration in the prolific career of the Dedricks.
  • Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low - Subject
    are the founding members of this Duluth, Minnesota indie rock band. Low’s music features slow tempos and minimalist arrangements, but Parker and Sparhawk’s striking vocal harmonies are the group’s most distinctive element. Critic Denise Sullivan writes that their shared vocals are “as chilling as anything Gram and Emmylou ever conspired on — though that’s not to say it’s country-tinged, just straight from the heart.”
  • El Vez - Subject
    Dubbed the “thinking man’s Elvis” El Vez is a post-modern punk rock king with a Latin twist, the Chicano experience filtered through the soul of Elvis Presley. As a singer & songwriter, El Vez is a true original, having created LIVE music mashups long before DJs adopted the form. His lyrics are political and pro-Latino. Mixing word play with clever social satire he takes on the classic chestnuts and turns then on their ear. Backed by the kick ass guitars of the Spiders of Mars, and his lovely El Vettes, his Merry Mex-mass show is not to be missed.

  • Dr. Demento - Subject
    Dr. Demento (aka Barry Hansen) is a legendary L.A. disc jockey and musicologist. He is one of the key figures in the development of the Christmas novelty song and was the first American DJ to champion the work of musical legends Spike Jones, Tiny Tim, Weird Al Yankovich, Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Frank Zappa as well as SCTV alumni Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, whose McKenzie Bros. hoser ode to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” became a huge North American hit in 1981.

Featured Music

  • Just a Lonely Christmas

    Performed by The Moonglows (Harvey Fuqua)
    Published by Joni Music Courtesy of Universal Music Canada
  • Christmas Is Love

    Performed by James Brown (Nat Jones)
    Published by Tan Soul Music Courtesy of Universal Music Canada
  • Deck The Halls

    Performed by The Fleet Street Quartet (Traditional)
    Tom Axworthy (soprano saxophone), Larry Lippold (trumpet), David Howells (Trombone) Bill Masonheimer (tuba) Courtesy of Tom Axworthy & Joe Diamond
  • The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot

    Performed by Nat King Cole (Michael Carr, Thomas Connor, James Leach)
    Published by Shapiro Bernstein & Co Inc Courtesy of Universal Music Canada
  • Gift X-Change

    Performed by Calexico (Joseph Burns)
    Published by Lunada Bay Courtesy of Red Light Management
  • Merry Christmas Pretty Baby

    Performed by Jessie Mae Hemphill (Jessie Mae Brooks)
    Published by Music River Publishing Company Courtesy of Shout! Factory
  • Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)

    Performed by Bob Dorough and Miles Davis (Bob Dorough)
    Published by Irving Music, Sincere Music Co Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada
  • Winter Man

    Performed by Clarence Reid (Clarence Reid)
    Published by EMI Longitude Music Courtesy of Henry Stone Music
  • There’s A Star Above the Manger Tonight

    Performed by Red Red Meat (Tim Rutili)
    Published by Goat Licker Music Courtesy of Sub Pop Records
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town

    Performed by Bobby Timmons (Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie)
    Published by EMI Feist Catalog Inc, Haven Gillespie Music Publishing Co Courtesy of Concord Music Group
  • Merry Christmas

    Performed by Plan 9 (Eric Stumpo)
    Published by Criswell Predicts Courtesy of Criswell Predicts
  • O Level Drinkers

    Performed by Lord Melody (Fitzroy Alexander) Courtesy of Charlies Records, VP Records
  • Tucusito

    Performed by Las Estrellas (Wayne Flores) SODRAC
    Courtesy of Charlies Records, VP Records
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

    Performed by Brenda Lee (Johnny Marks)
    Published by St Nicholas Music Inc Courtesy of Universal Music Canada
  • Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)

    Performed by The Free Design (Christopher Dedrick)
    Published by Lamplighter Publishing Courtesy of Lamplighter Publishing, Joseph J. Zynczak, Esq.
  • Shepherds and Wisemen

    Performed by The Free Design featuring The Symphony In Blue And The Airmen Of Note (Christopher Dedrick)
    Published by Lamplighter Publishing Courtesy of Lamplighter Publishing, The Airmen Of Note
  • Christmas In Vietnam

    (Jack Taylor) Performed by Private Charles Bowens and The Gentlemen from Tigerland
  • Back Door Santa

    Performed by Clarence Carter (Clarence Carter, Marcus Daniel)
    Published by Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc Courtesy of Warner Music Canada
  • Christmas Time Is Coming (A Street Carol)

    Performed by Stormy Weather (Henry Farag)
    Published by Farag Music, Canterbury Productions Courtesy of Canterbury Productions
  • Fat Daddy Claus

    (Mack Wolfson) Performed by Paul ‘Fat Daddy’ Johnson
  • Santa Claus Is A Black Man

    Performed by Akim and the Teddy Vann Production Company (Teddy Vann)
    Published by Peer Music Courtesy of Jad Records
  • Santa Claus Is Sometimes Brown

    (Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller)
    Arranged & Performed by El Vez
  • Christmas In Hollis

    Performed by Run DMC (Darryl McDaniels, Jason Mizell, Joseph Simmons)
    Published by Protoons Inc Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada
  • I’d Like A Boyfriend For Christmas

    Performed by Janet Lane & The Rhythm Westerners (Elizabeth Urbaneck, Genevieve U. Lucas)
    Published by BMG Chrysalis
  • Santa Came On A Nuclear Missile

    Performed by Heather Noel (Ananth Narayan)
    Courtesy of Sunrise Records, Inc.
  • The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot

    Performed by A Girl Called Eddy (Michael Carr, Thomas Connor, James Leach)
    Published by Shapiro Bernstein & Co Inc Courtesy of Erin Moran, A Girl Called Eddy
  • The First Noel

    Performed by Sweet Lew (Traditional)
  • Unsilent Night

    Composed by Phil Kline
    Courtesy of Phil Kline
  • The Milky Way

    Composed by Phil Kline
    Courtesy of Phil Kline
  • Ronde Des Mages

    Composed by Phil Kline
    Courtesy of Phil Kline
  • Long Way Around the Sea

    Performed by LOW (Zachary Micheletti, Mimi Parker, Al Sparhawk)
    Published by Chair Kickers Union Music, Sub Pop Songs, Universal Songs of Polygram International Inc Courtesy of Sub Pop Records
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

    Performed by The Free Design and The Airmen Of Note (Traditional)
    Courtesy of The Airmen Of Note
  • Christmas Time Again

    Performed by Reuben Anderson (Reuben Anderson)
    Published by Push Music Jamaica Publishing Limited Courtesy of BMG Chrysalis
  • The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot

    Performed by The Mighty Sparrow (Michael Carr, Thomas Connor, James Leach)
    Published by Shapiro Bernstein & Co Inc musicians: CALYPSO (Happy Side) version: Marcelino Thompson (bass), Carol Hodge (drums), Larry Marsden (guitar), Jeff Grannum (alto & tenor sax), Wayne Walcott (trombone), Kenny John (trumpet), Robert Rutledge (trumpet), Kareem (pan steel), Victory Y. See Yuen (congas & sleigh bells), Frankie McIntosh (piano) musicians: BALLAD (Sad Side) version: Damon Duwhite (drums), Max Gouveia (bass), Kareem (pan steel), Victory Y. See Yuen (percussion), Frankie McIntosh (piano) arranger – Frankie McIntosh engineers – Akili Walker & George Mayers assistant engineers – Franklyn Grant Jr & Errol Thomas producers – Akili Walker, Mila Aung-Thwin & Bob Moore executive producer – Mitchell Kezin special thanks: Rawlston Charles & Bill Adler
  • A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn’t So)

    Performed by The Flaming Lips (Wayne Michael Coyne, Steven Drozd, Michael Ivins)
    Published by EMI Blackwood Music Inc, Lovely Sorts of Death Music Courtesy of Warner Music Canada


No Screenings at this time...


  • “…the BEST Christmas movie this year!” - Diffuser
  • “Funny and moving...made with aplomb and charm.” - Tiny Mix Tapes
  • “A supremely entertaining, funny and ultimately moving portrait that’s as warm as Christmas and Hanukkah combined."- Film Corner with Greg Klymkiw
  • “Amazing. Touching. Original. Psychotronic... Jingle Bell Rocks! is all that and a little more” - La Presse
  • “A surprisingly bittersweet doc.” - The Hollywood Reporter
  • “… the film will enjoy the same fate as the handful of Christmas songs that have stuck like pine needles in the carpet and become a perennial seasonal phenomenon.” - The Globe and Mail
  • “A charming, witty film.” - The Chicago Tribune


For press inquiries, please contact:
Liz Lagno
Oscilloscope Laboratories
(212) 219-4029 ext. 41
[email protected]
For booking inquiries, please contact:
Kate McEdwards
Oscilloscope Laboratories
(212) 219-4029 ext. 29
[email protected]
Or if you'd like to contact the filmmakers:
Mitchell Kezin
Director / Mabooshi Film Co.
(604) 255-5513
[email protected]