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HomeLifestyle‘Best Christmas movie of all time’ premiere’s locally tomorrow

‘Best Christmas movie of all time’ premiere’s locally tomorrow

There’s a new Christmas movie premiering at Avalon United Cinema on Thursday 14 December and critics have labelled it, “Movie of the Year” (by ABC Radio) and, “Best Christmas movie of all time” (by The Conversation), to name a few.

There’s no snow. There’s no small town. And there’s no handsome man to make the female lead give up her six-figure-salary.

There are 40-degree days. There is air conditioning. And it’s set in Campbelltown (more specifically, it was filmed in a housing commission).

In the words of award-winning writer and director, Heath Davis, Christmess is the antithesis to every Christmas movie out there… but people are loving it.

“During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, I watched every single Christmas movie out there and I couldn’t identify with any of them,” Heath tells Manly Observer.

“They weren’t like my Christmas, or my friends’ Christmases. So, I wrote something that’s real and it’s resonating with people, whether that’s Aussies or celebrities at the Austin Film Festival where it premiered last month.”


Heath, who grew up in Western Sydney and now resides in the Inner West, has always loved movies.

“I used to feign sickness so I could stay home to watch the midday movie,” he says.

“Every Saturday, I was at the local independent cinema and there was a video store down the road, so I breathed movies.”

Heath started writing short stories in primary school, but he says they were very visual – almost like mini movies.

After studying journalism and film at university, Heath worked as a reporter before making some short films. In 2005, Spoon Man (written and directed by Heath Davis and Daniel DiMarco) won Best Australian Short Film at the Flickerfest International Short Film Festival.

“I then moved to Hollywood and learnt the process of film making, but I also learnt how Hollywood does business and treats people, which didn’t agree with me, so I moved back to Australia,” Heath adds.

He has since made Broke, Book Week (2019 winner of Charlotte Film Festival Prize for Best Narrative Feature and 2019 Nominee AACTA Award for Best Indie Film) and was hired to make Locusts (winner of 6 awards and 16 nominations).

Christmess is his latest film and has some recognisable Australian names.

Heath Davis and Darren Gilshenan. Image via christmessfilm Instagram
Heath Davis and Darren Gilshenan. Image via christmessfilm Instagram

Steve Le Marquand plays Chris, a successful, selfish, career driven actor who spent his fame and fortune on fuelling his addictions. When he leaves rehab he has no family, no friends and even his agent doesn’t pick him up to take him to the halfway house. Instead, he has to catch a train across Sydney in the summer heat the week before Christmas day. Darren Gilshenan plays Nick, who is Chris’ sponsor, and runs the halfway house. Hannah Joy, lead singer of ARIA Award winning band Middle Kids, plays Joy, another recovering addict living in the halfway house.

To get back on his feet, Chris takes a job as a shopping centre Santa. His daughter, who he hasn’t seen in 20 years, is in line to meet Santa, with his grandson who he didn’t know he had.

The halfway house trio become a makeshift family and set about helping to get Chris’ daughter’s forgiveness and get her to come to the house for Christmas.

“Not wanting to give any spoilers away, but it’s not a hallmark ending. Chris gets what he needs, not what he wants,” Heath adds.

So, why are people clamouring to see Christmess? And, yes, they are clamouring. Heath says Aussies are demanding their local cinema play Christmess in their theatres.

“At its core, it’s a redemption story about forgiveness and human connection and the importance of that,” Heath explains.

“Whether that’s with your biological family, or a family you’ve made for yourself from people you’ve met.

Christmess has great characters, with a lot of heart, who the audience connect to.”


Heath even drew inspiration from the origins of Christmas.

“Baby Jesus was born in a barn because the community wouldn’t help him,” he says.

“So, there’s a scene in Christmess where Chris needs to cook a turkey for his estranged daughter for Christmas day, but the oven is broken. He knocks on his neighbours’ doors to ask for help, and they all turn their back on him.

“The film is also about looking out for those who are doing it worse off than you.”

Christmess echoes why Heath loves making movies.

“There is something about creating a story that is full of emotion and truth, and doing it with your best friends. There’s that camaraderie and that connection. It’s when you’re really living life,” Heath tells us.

Christmess will premiere at United Cinema Avalon on Thursday and will be available on Binge Friday 15 December.

“If you can, go see it at your local independent cinema – ask for them to show it if they don’t have it. Cinemas are doing it tough at the moment, especially independent cinemas, so you’ll also be supporting your local community,” Heath adds.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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