AFL-CIO touts filmed-in-Portland HBO documentary American Winter


Finally, a film about the human consequences of the Great Recession: On March 18, HBO will air American Winter, an intimate documentary filmed in Portland during the winter of 2011-12. Produced and directed by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz, it’s about how the economy plays out in the lives of eight Portland-area families.

Years into the downturn, formerly middle class families are finding themselves in financial crisis and needing assistance for the first time in their lives. Meanwhile, the social safety net that was created to help people in difficult times has been weakened by budget cuts.

The film’s point is urgent enough that the Oregon AFL-CIO is making a copy available for showings at local union meetings. In Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) spoke at a March 6 screening. Local unionists are among those captured on film, which also includes interviews with Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish.

The film airs on HBO March 18 at 9 p.m., and can be seen on HBO On Demand.


  1. I hope this will air again this summer, I’ll have HBO by then. Thank you for films like these. Trying to keep my two income home on one income has been a nightmare…a constant struggle but we are doing it.

    James Majors
    Portland, OR 97225

    • James,
      this movie had me in tears. It is a brillant documentary on the tribulations soooo many folks are experiencing in this country today.

      I lost my employment and failed to find work for 3.4 years. I lost 15 years of responsible savings. I had nothing but my health for 2.4 of those years. It was a constant state of misery and tears.

      I remember jumping when a passing truck hit a pothole outside my house in fear it was the bank coming to throw me out. I lived only to take care of my beloved dogs. If it had not been for them, I would have probably called it quits.

      My old job has since called me back to work and I have been climbing out of the hole for the last three years due to bad credit and the IRS tax penalties I incurred from living off my retirement. I lost my home of 16 years and sense of normalcy and security in the world. BUT, I am working and can eat and pay rent.

      I hope things are turning around for you- for everyone. When you get the chance, please watch this documentary. It shows how things can do a 180 to good caring hardworking responsible people.

      I came to this site in hopes of finding an article updating us on what happened to the people displayed in American WInter. My prayers are with them.

      Thank you HBO.

      Washington, D.C.


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