American Winter

Starting in 2011, two ambitious and socially conscious filmmakers had the idea of shooting a documentary film that shines a light on the dramatic personal stories behind the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. They turned to 211info in Portland as the entry point for capturing the story.

For two winters – a two-week stretch to film the pilot one year and several months to shoot the documentary the next – Emmy award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz were embedded with their crew in the 211info offices and in the community. American Winter is the film that emerged. 

This film is a touching portrayal of individual families who, like so many people across the U.S., were once middle class but now find themselves below the poverty line and trying desperately to make ends meet.

211info was proud to participate in the film. And we're very thankful to Joe and Harry Gantz for their thoughtful storytelling. We hope the documentary raises awareness for 211, but more importantly elevates the national conversation about poverty on a personal level.  

Click here if you'd like to donate to 211info in support our efforts working with families like those portrayed in the film.


American Winter debuted at the Portland International Film Festival where it won the Best Documentary Award.

It then aired nationally on HBO on March 18.

Media coverage

'American Winter' Families Struggle To Survive Fall From Middle Class from NPR.

Greg Kaufmann on Bill Moyers' website:

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, I’ve been waiting for a documentary to make the case that low-income people and the middle class are now in the same boat — that old distinctions people created to divide them are obsolete, with so many people living near poverty, or an illness, lost job or disaster away from poverty.

Now, finally, a movie has arrived that shows the precariousness of the U.S. economy for the majority of Americans, refusing to distinguish between a deserving and non-deserving poor: American Winter.

Think Out Loud on Oregon Public Broadcasting.


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