Runtime: 1hr 24min
Director: Dana Nachman
By Peggy Marie
Being in somewhat of a bad mood due to the rise in Covid cases here and another complete lockdown – I dived into this film all the while thinking I was going into a Christmas film about Santa and his reindeer. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
“DEAR SANTA” is a lovely new documentary from Dana Nachman telling us the story of ‘Operation Santa‘ – a lovely program that the United States Postal Office has been operating since 1912 when it was realized something must be done with all the letters children, and yes sometimes even adults, write to Santa each year. There is nothing sweeter than watching the opening where kids excitedly talk about Santa Claus and the letters they write to him. There is nothing that can bring a smile to your face and a lift in your heart more than listening to a young child’s ideal and belief that someone is dedicated to delivering some happiness to each and every one of them. In the 1940’s this wonderful program opened up to the public and has recently has gone online as well. It’s remarkable watching the efforts of everyone from individuals, to families, to companies both large and small, and even other children all join together in this massive effort to bring everyone a little bit of joy during the holidays.
We follow the film as it takes us through big cities and small ones on Christmas day showing us the impact these “Santa’s Elves” have on their communities. We watch as they interview several ‘elves’ in the postal service itself who ‘work with Santa’ to read, sort and deliver the letters received every year. Some of the letters are heart-wrenching as we see families who have been displaced by the huge fire in Paradise, CA or adults who are struggling with just getting beds for their kids. We also follow several of the ‘adopter’ elves i.e., those who go through letters and pick the ones they wish to ‘adopt’ and get the requested gifts and help Santa get those gifts to children and adults all across the country. Some are even past recipients of this wonderful operation and are now giving back in return.
The only beef anyone could possibly come up with about this film is that it’s a bit lengthy, but the end result of it all is this thoughtful, heart-warming, and honest look that proves that not everything is lost in humanity. It’s exactly what’s called for and the world needs back right now, some good old compassion and empathy for others. So if like me you were feeling Grinchy at all this Holiday season – Dear Santa might be just what is in order to remember what makes the season so special.. it’s called giving.
Review screening: Courtesy of IFC FILMS