The writer-director behind festive musical Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey has said it was important to him to include a diverse cast so that all races can “see themselves as magical”.
Forest Whitaker stars in the fantasy flick as genius toy inventor Jeronicus Jangle, who must rediscover happiness after a personal tragedy with a little help from his granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills).
Working on the project made African-American filmmaker David Talbert reflect on his own childhood watching classic family movies, but being disheartened by the lack of diversity among their respective casts.
He told RadioTimes.com: “For me, it’s important that people see themselves, different races get a chance to see themselves as magical and wondrous and scientific and innovative. Growing up, watching films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Willy Wonka, I saw all these kids but none of them looked like me.
“Every time I would go to the mall after seeing those movies, every white kid I saw I thought: ‘Can’t they fly? They must be magical!’ You know, because that’s all you saw.
“So, it’s important for me to put images that the world can see themselves as magical and wonderful and so then they can aspire and believe they can fly and do all these things.”
Jingle Jangle boasts lavish production design, with brightly coloured costumes and intricately decorated sets that create a distinctly festive atmosphere, inspired by the cultures Talbert visited while travelling.
“It wasn’t until I got out of the inner city US and you get a chance to travel around the world… the world is very vibrant,” he continued. “It’s beautiful, it’s architectural, but it’s also connected, more so than we may be led to believe.
“And so, I wanted a film that represented the vibrancy of the world and all the colours and cultures and races that make up a beautiful tapestry of this planet.”
Jingle Jangle is the latest festive flick to land on Netflix this year, following romcoms Holidate and Operation Christmas Drop, with Talbert hoping it helps audiences “find joy again” after such a challenging year.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is available to stream on Netflix from Friday 13th November. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.