The Christmas tree trade in New York City is a bustling business. Every holiday season, thousands of trees are sold on the sidewalks of the city, and competition is fierce. This has inspired Celia Aniskovich to create a new documentary about the families behind this industry. Aniskovich is directing and producing The Merchants of Joy (w/t), which comes from Boat Rocker, the company behind War Game, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and Hulu’s Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Dial Tone Films and Epic Magazine.
The film will follow five families who are both street corner capitalists and Christmas enthusiasts as they source, negotiate, and hustle to sell as many trees as possible in the city that never sleeps. Aniskovich said she founded Dial Tone Films to tell stories of human connection, and The Merchants of Joy is a love letter to the people who make Christmas happen in New York City every year.
Todd Lubin and Jack Turner will executive produce for Boat Rocker’s Matador Content alongside Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier for Boat Rocker. Aniskovich and Zoe Vock will produce for Dial Tone Films along with Arthur Spector, Joshua Davis, and Josh Bearman for Epic Magazine.
The film should make an instant holiday classic due to its intrigue and personalities featured in it. Much like her previous films, Celia has assembled an unconventional yet endearing cast of characters; everyone is excited to be partnering with her on this evergreen film. What was not realized before is that the Christmas tree business is a year-round white-knuckled hustle that Celia began filming with extraordinary passion in January 2023.