Getting back on your feet after a financial setback is never easy, but in the aftermath of the Great Recession it has become harder than ever for many families. Oregon did not escape from the economic turmoil that followed the meltdown on Wall Street in 2008. Jobs and homes were lost, along with peace of mind, as Oregonians realized the good times were gone, who knew for how long? The economic downturn has seen filmmakers respond with their own takes on how recession has changed America.

To document the struggles, filmmaker brothers Joe and Harry Gantz trained their cameras on eight families from Oregon who were each suffering in different ways. John, 50, lost a good job during layoffs and after three years of unemployment faced losing his ranch and facing the attendant distress to his son, Geral, who has Down’s syndrome.

Shanon, a single mother, got into debt to pay her daughter Chelsea’s medical bills and as a result had difficulty making rent. Mike, Heather and their five children were left without water, electricity or heat for lack of money to pay the bills. They had to turn to a generous neighbor who allowed them to run an extension cord from his garage.

These and other stories of “American Winter” can be seen at a special one-time screening of the film next month. The movie will be shown at the Hollywood Theatre on NE Sandy Boulevard at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2. Tickets are $5 from the box office (503-281-4215). The screening is organized by the Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger (OFRAH) and the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP). OCPP’s Executive Director, Chuck Sheketoff, features in the film and will host a question and answer session after the screening. He will be able to place the experiences of the families in a broader context of societal trends.

The filmmakers view their documentary as a call to action, stating that, in their view, “if we are going to keep the promise of the American Dream for our children, we must come together, roll up our sleeves, make some hard decisions and begin to help the millions of vulnerable and struggling families all across this country.” This movie shows how necessary such assistance has become.

More information on the film is available at the website: