Stan Original Film Jones Family Christmas may present as a film about a family during the holidays but upon a closer look, the Heather Mitchell-led film has complex themes centring around bushfires, belonging, suicide and the LGBTQIA+ community.
Speaking with Mediaweek prior to its November 23 release on Stan, Mitchell said that the film makes us question where we “belong”.
“I think in the midst of them trying to be true to themselves, as well as fulfilling other people’s expectations and then being surprised by unknown guests — and there’s this ex-factor that’s brought into the family, which can inflame all sorts of things and create excitement — there’s also the external dangers and the internal pressures.”
Heather Mitchell. Jones Family Christmas, Stan
According to the acclaimed Aussie actor, everyone who worked on the film, including the writer and director Tegan Higginbotham, who based the script on her own life, was “very conscious of making sure that the bushfire was not introduced into the film to explore in depth about the fires in Australia at Christmas time”, but to “use the fire as a way of talking about an external character coming in to show that people need each other.”
“So there’s an external threat, which helps all the characters understand that when there’s a great threat to your well being your happiness, your life or those you love, we need to pull together and help each other as a community and as a family.”
Mitchell, who recently starred in ABC’s Gold Diggers also added that she hopes people will “understand that it’s [the film] is done with great love and care to ensure that we’re saying we know there are enormous threats in Australia. climactic, and especially in summer, that can happen to people and particularly at times when there’s supposed to be great joy and celebration, and gratitude.”
Max McKenna on the LGBTQIA+ inclusion in Jones Family Christmas
In addition to Mitchell’s sentiments, Max McKenna said the addition of the queer character Alex (the youngest daughter), was an exciting element, given they hadn’t “seen an Australian kind of Christmasy or holiday film that includes queerness in the way this does”.
“Having a queer person be one of the leads and have a storyline centred around that as the main romance, I thought that was really cool,” McKenna said in another interview with Mediaweek. “I was really excited when I got in the room, and we started chatting about it.”
The 27-year-old, who is non-binary, added that the production team spoke about “what the stakes were for this relationship within the film and in the real world”.
“We chatted about how a lot of young queer people, especially in the country, are going to watch this and hopefully feel represented in kind of their pain and in their silence, but also it’s a bit exciting and cute.
“I think it gives a lot of hope to young queer people who haven’t been represented in this way yet.”
While they still think we’ve “got a long way to go” when it comes to representation in Film and TV, they said: “It’s moments like these that I get super excited about. I get to be a young queer person playing a young queer person that young queer people are going to see. It’s just a celebration.”
Stream Stan Original Film Jones Family Christmas only on Stan now.