Every holiday season Francois, a 42-year old awning vendor, leaves his wife and three young children to sell Christmas trees from a stand on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and live in his van parked on the street. Francois is among a group of people who become New Yorkers for five weeks, enduring the adversity of an itinerant’s survival, but, also, enjoying the found pleasures of this discovered world as they populate neighborhoods and apartments with urban greenery, transforming gritty blocks into forests and bare sidewalks into Santa’s Village. For the devoted customers – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, families, individuals – the personal relationships they revisit with Tree Men such as Francois are intertwined with the holiday rituals of selection and trimming of their trees. The journey of the Christmas trees – from their birth in North Carolina and Canadian tree farms, to joyful purchase at the sidewalk stands, to vibrant display in the customers’ homes, to final mulching and returning to the earth in city parks or positioning as erosion barriers on ocean beaches decimated by Hurricane Sandy – is a narrative line illuminating the bonds that nurture holiday traditions, community and the human spirit. Tree Man tells the story of that journey, its challenges, sacrifices and celebrations, and the forces of continuity and surprise that bring people together in this modern holiday tale.
Risks and challenges
The filmmakers of the Tree Man documentary are a group of NYC-based friends who are donating their professional services to make the film during the 2013 holiday season. As with any independent film, there are factors which can impact the production schedule (financial, weather, story events, personnel), but, having worked on many other productions, we know the challenges and are prepared to work through whatever arises in order to complete the Tree Man story.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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