Monday, April 1, 2013

Documentary Review: American Winter

We know the economy is in bad shape and that millions of Americans and people worldwide struggle to make ends meet.  From personal experience, I have contemplated how close homelessness might be from where I'm at now.  Yes, I have a good job that provides money for a home, car, vacation, retirement, and health care, but where would I be if I were laid off today?  How long could I survive before things got desperate?  Let's be honest.  Not long.

I don't worry about it, and maybe I should?  One thing I will say though is that after watching the documentary "American Winter," I feel compelled to give back.  In the documentary, they share the lives of a variety of American families in Portland, Oregon who have lost their jobs, fallen to illness, or become widowed.  In each of their cases, it really was just one thing that knocked them down and put them on poverty's doorstep.  These were people who had college degrees, who hustled and worked hard, and who would take ANY job to make ends meet.  These were not people looking for a handout or sitting on their butt taking welfare and doing nothing but watch television all day (which is a stereotype that I really hate).  These were families who maybe had one spouse working 12-14 hours a day and yet battled whether to pay utilities or the rent/mortgage.  Mothers skip meals, repeatedly, and scrap metal on the weekends or give plasma to put food on the table.  In short, the stories were compelling and gut-wrenching.

From a personal perspective, my family went through bankruptcy when I was in high school because of my father's mounting medical bills.  My parents went on to pay off every bill they had waived by the bankruptcy, but it obviously ruined their credit rating for years after.  That experience changed me forever.  Today I work two jobs (even though the one is plenty of work all on its own) and am constantly putting money away.  I always question whether I could make it though one major set back?  What if I lost my job?  What if I had another major medical problem?  What if my mother fell to poverty?  Could I take care of her too?

If you've asked yourself any of these questions or really stopped to think about who is being affected by our depressed economy, then I highly recommend that you watch the HBO documentary, "American Winter."  People bash social programs right now, and I won't get all political, but there have to be solutions that won't cost us millions (or billions) more in the long run, that can stimulate the economy and rebuild the middle class.  For now, I feel compelled to give back in some small way.  Please check out this amazing documentary, if you can!


  1. Thank you so much for this review, Becky! I had not heard of this documentary before, but I will *definitely* be searching it out.

  2. Thanks for the review, Becky! Most of us are perilously close to being homeless. I know if my parents weren't around to help me out I'd be homeless right now. =/

  3. I feel for the people in the document and also I also I am not questioning the terrible situation they are in, but in my opinion the document is very badly made even if its theme is very important.

    It has a feeling more like reality show, then document. Was it really necessary to make people cry in front of camera every single time? Instead of bring the feeling of empathy, it was somehow detaching - it was simply too much, calculated (from scenarists not participants). Yes, they have reason to feel desperate. But this way of presenting their stories was simply putting me of. And I blame the maker of the movie, of course. I do not know - maybe it has different impact on me (and some other people I know) because I am from Europe and I am used to more subtle ways in conveying feelings on screen and more focused on stories and informations instead of "heartbreaking scenes" - it simply feels calculated and "paparazzi like" to me.