Tony Donoghue has brought the locavore philosophy to filmmaking. His earlier A Film from My Parish - 6 Farms (Mountainfilm 2009) and the new Irish Folk Furniture were created entirely within 2 miles of his home and feature subjects that appear, initially, to be of only limited interest. But something as simple as an old chest of drawers, when seen through Donoghue’s lens, becomes a living and breathing character, and Donoghue proves that a talented storyteller can charm us with any subject matter. In the filming of Irish Folk Furniture, Donoghue saved and restored 16 pieces of furniture and returned them to their owners. Focusing on the beauty of what we already have versus what we desire, Donoghue offers a view of an optimistic future by pointing his lens at the past.
What would it be like to spend a month without the ubiquitous “Made in China” label? What if that month was December? One all-American family accepts this challenge from Chinese immigrant Tom Xia, who moved with his family to the U.S. when he was a child and wanted to explore the relationship of his adopted homeland to the goods coming from his native one. The rules: One lucky (?) American family must remove everything made in China from their home temporarily and cannot purchase any new products with a Chinese label for an entire holiday season. Eliciting the help of filmmaking neighbors and a naively optimistic family, Xia — whose life teeters between Chinese and American worlds and identities — is a conflicted and kind guide through Xmas Without China. The challenge is not without both comedy and tragedy, and like any good story, this one resonates with those of us trying to live a happy and conscientious life. Questions of family, success and consumerism swirl into an entertaining soup of personal identity, and while the answers aren’t easy, it’s fun trying to figure them out.