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‘Searching for Christmas Tree’: An Ice Climbing Alternative to ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Home Alone’

This Chinese climbing doc has nostalgia, mystery, and an epic quest for a mythical waterfall frozen into the shape of a Christmas tree. What more do you need?

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Tired of the same old Christmas classics?

I know I am. Yet we can’t seem to shake these cinematic standbys any more than we can avoid Mariah Carey’s voice every time we hit up the grocery store for egg nog. Are we really interested in The New York Times’ deep dive into how the McCallister family was part of the 1%? Count me out.

Instead, I’ll be enjoying the holidays with a rewatch of 2017’s Searching for Christmas Tree. In all honesty, this film is even less about Christmas than Die Hard. But as much as I love me some John McClane, I’m ready for something different. In this case, it’s two Chinese ice climbers searching for a mythical frozen waterfall in the shape of — you guessed it — a Christmas tree.

But this short documentary is also about China’s fast-changing culture, epic landscapes, and two men climbing not for the grade or recognition, but simply for their appreciation of nature’s wonders. For me, He Chuan and Liu Yang’s voiceovers inspire a nostalgia every bit as warm as a yule log on Christmas morning.

“Every piece of the wall is a masterpiece of nature,” Chuan says.

If you’d like a brief diversion from the expected this holiday, make some time for this award-winning film.

Runtime: 16 minutes

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