A couple weeks ago, the beautiful Hannah and I went to a film festival. It wasn’t as high brow as it sounds. It was actually very sad and business like. We saw American Winter, a story about our city and its agencies for the poor and desperate. I say poor and desperate, when I actually mean those struggling to make ends meet a little worse than most of us. I know I say we are rich, but sometimes when we look at the balance of our savings, credit card and check accounts, we definitely don’t feel like it. This film showed people who are substantially richer with love and family than most, but have no money for bills.
American Winter chronicles 5 families in the general area who have lost work, family members or health and ended up “where they never thought they would”. Asking for help and approaching homelessness. The life you never dream of as a child, teenager, college student or young professional. Having to move your family back in with YOUR parents. Having to sell your needed possessions, or visit the food pantry or petition the electric company to turn on your electricity for the health of your children. That is NOT the American dream, you’d think.
But sadly as the film details, it is a large part of it. These five families in Portland probably portray thousands of similar stories in our city, region and the world. This film exposes the horrible parts of the system. Being overqualified for a shit job. Being told that you have to be more in debt to apply for help, then when you are, hearing it is too late. Hearing that there isn’t any help available because you are one of thousands with the same problem and the agency, church or business just ran out of funds or resources.
I am part of the last problem. Having to say, “Sorry, that is all we have”. Many times a month, I grimace after hearing a story of loss or struggle I believe and have to turn people away. Or more honestly, farther away.
American Winter is a story that each of us can relate to. If you are one of the lucky ones that has access to HBO, check it out on Monday night, March 18th. If you are reading this later, or don’t have HBO check out the websites below for more showing and information. It might come to a city near you!