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THIS CHRISTMAS

About The Production
And as we trim the tree  How much fun it's gonna be together  This Christmas

"If I never made another movie again, I would be happy I made this one,” says filmmaker Preston A. Whitmore II. Having written, directed or produced a half-dozen feature films and worked on a successful television series, Whitmore says This Christmas is by far the closest to his heart of any project he has ever tackled. 

"All the characters in this movie are near and dear to me, because they represent different phases and elements of my life,” Whitmore explains. "Quentin is the section of my life when I first came to Southern California. Columbus Short's character, Claude, is another section of my life, when I was in the Marine Corps. Baby is a section of my life, only in my dream world, because I could never sing as well as Chris Brown, but I do like to dream that I could!” 

However, Whitmore says the character that resonates most strongly for him is family matriarch Ma' Dere, played by Loretta Devine. "She reminds me of my mother. Having lost my mom a couple years ago, it has given me some comfort to create this character and, in a way, see her live again.”

Over the few days leading up to Christmas, the Whitfield clan is tested, scandalized, humbled and ultimately rewarded by their love for each other. Old rivalries are played out and secrets revealed as they reunite for the holiday at the family homestead. 

"It's a universal story,” says producer Will Packer. "There's nothing uniquely African-American about it. It's a story about a mother who raises six kids who all leave the nest and go very different ways but come back together as a family. At the end of the day it's through their hope and faith in the strength of the family that they persevere through some real challenges.” 

Whitmore says his goal while writing this script was to make sure that every character had his or her own story arc. "There's something for everyone in this picture. We have drama. We have action—a lot of which revolves around Idris Elba's character, Quentin, the oldest son. We also have comedy, which revolves around the relationships between the sisters, as well as their relationships with men outside the family.”

Actor Columbus Short, who plays Claude, notes, "Every single character in the film has a secret. I have the biggest secret of all; two secrets, in fact. There's a twist every two or three pages. A new bomb drops. It's suspense-filled, for sure.”

But the suspense is sweetened with a liberal dose of laughter, notes Whitmore. "I think whenever you look at drama, real drama, there's a certain amount of comedy in it. That's true to what happens to anybody when they deal with siblings in their family. At the moment it seems really dramatic, but then you sit down and think about it a couple of days later and it seems hilarious.”

"It is such a true slice of life,” Packer adds. "A lot of times siblings, because they grow up in the same household, have to kind of get along, even if they don't really like each other. But then when you're adults, it forces you to deal with the relationship in a very different way because now there's nothing that says you have to relate to this person or like them or even love them. 

Ronnie Warner, an executive producer and actor in the film, says that by tapping into his personal experience, Whitmore has recreated a universal experience. "We seem to concentrate a lot in American culture on the idea of diversity,” says the former stand-up comedian. "But that's not what this film is about. There are common threads that run through all of us. We all have issues in our families. We all cry over the same things and we laugh over the same things. So it's really about finding that common denominator. And this is what makes it so good. It's just real.” 

Warner came to

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