American Winter

Synopsis: Documentary feature film that follows the personal stories of families struggling in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Filmed over the course of one winter in one American city, the film presents an intimate snapshot of the state of the nation's economy as it is playing out in millions of American families, and highlights the human consequences of the decline of the middle class and the fracturing of the American Dream.
Director(s): Harry Gantz, Joe Gantz
Production: View Film
  1 win & 2 nominations.
90 min

March 18th, 2013

I get a text from my

husband when I'm at work saying,

"PGE is here to shut us off. "

And they come to my door.

He says, "I'm with PGE,

and I need $557 right now,

otherwise I'm going to shut off

your electricity. "

I was like,

"I don't have $557."

I came home.

No lights, no nothing,

and then explaining to the kids

when they got home

that we had no electricity...

That was hard.

With the no lights,

it was hard to get

around the house.

And since there was

no electricity,

we couldn't cook our food.

It was so cold

that me and my baby brother

had to curl up on the couch

together, and we had,

like, 4 comforters on us.

It was really scary.

My 4-year-old was like,

"Mommy, why are you crying?

What's wrong?"

I'm like, "Nothing, baby.

It's OK. Everything's

going to be OK."

"Then why are you

crying, Mommy?

"I don't want to see you cry.

It's OK. We're OK."

My son walks in

and he comes up to me

and he... Oh, yeah.

He puts his arm around me,

and he says I'm the best dad.

Don't feel like it.

Thank you for calling 211.

How can I help you?

I was calling.

I need help with

our electric bill.

Still looking

for a job, but I haven't

found anything, and the

money I had has run out.

I just lost my job, and

I won't be able to pay

rent for February.

I'm going to see if I can find

some resources in your area.

211 here in Portland,

we're a non-profit organization

that connects people

to community services,

primarily over the phone

and also through the Web.

Thanks for calling 211.

How can I help you?

Yes, I need to

know if you guys can help me see

if there's anybody to help

with energy assistance.

- We were doing awesome.

- Then the winter came.

The winter came.

He got laid off.

I currently am

going to have to move out

of my apartment;

I have no way to pay it.

We can't pay our bills.

Are we gonna have to move out?

Are we gonna have

a 72-hour eviction?

Yes, I was calling to inquire

about energy assistance.

I got good grades in school,

I went to college,

and then to come out

and still live impoverished?

I was

told to call you guys and see

if you had any resources

for rental assistance.

I have got doctor bills,

like, every day in the mail.

I got a $49,000 bill.

Today we have no water

and we have absolutely

no money to pay it.

It's been 3 days since

the water got turned off.


not used to being able

to not provide

basic things like water.

My house is

going up for foreclosure sale.

My savings dried up

from making these house

payments, so I'm getting

foreclosed on.

I don't know what to do.

I'm needing some help

with my electric bill.

My mom

never owned a home,

so buying a house was

a huge deal for me.

And yesterday, when we were

signing those papers,

it's just like, "My kids

don't have a home. "

I am looking

housing for myself and my son.

I am a recent widow.

I came home from work

one day, and my son

looks at me and says,

"Dad's in the back of that ambulance. "

They said, within him

being there not even two hours

that he was septic and that

he was going to die.

For the middle

class in this country, we have

a "one strike and

you're out" economy.

The system that once

was in place

to cushion those crises

has been frayed.

And I think what people are

experiencing in this country is

how quickly you can go

from middle class

to being extremely vulnerable.

The most endangered

species in America is

the middle-class family,

and I think we have

to be alarmed by that

and ask whether that is

good policy.

We got

the car payment,

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "American Winter" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 30 Jul 2021. <>.

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