HBO Documentary about Middle-Class Families Crashing into Poverty Wins April Sidney Award

By: Press Release | The Sidney Hillman Foundation

NEW YORK – The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today that Joe and Harry Gantz have won the April Sidney Award for American Winter, a documentary that follows eight Portland, Oregon-area families struggling to make ends meet in the Great Recession, during the winter of 2011/2012. The film is airing on HBO.

“We are hoping to change minds and policy with American Winter,” said Joe Gantz, producer and director of American Winter. At a time when 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty nationwide and the top one percent accumulate wealth at record-breaking rates, the filmmakers sought to cast a light on the fragility of the middle class and the threadbare state of our social safety net. “American Winter puts a face on the nation’s economic challenges and injects empathy into the pursuit of viable solutions,” Gantz said.  

The families in American Winter cope with stagnant wages, the mortgage crisis, medical bills, death and disability. They suffer from budget cuts that have frayed the social safety net in the name of austerity.  

American Winter follows hardworking families who, like so many Americans, are one crisis away from poverty. A woman struggles to raise her son alone after her husband’s sudden death; another loses her job because of her daughter’s chronic illness. A couple with young children must decide whether to pay their mortgage or keep their lights and heat on in the dead of winter.  

“The film is heartbreakingly wonderful. Every American needs to see it,” said Hillman Executive director Alexandra Lescaze.   

Joe and Harry Gantz are the Emmy award-winning producer/directors of the HBO documentary series “Taxicab Confessions” and executive producers of the CBS drama “The Defenders”.  Past work includes the award-winning feature documentary “Couples Arguing” and the film “Destination: Change Our World” for Amnesty International, as well as documentary series broadcast on Showtime and The Sundance Channel, and on Channels 4 and 5 in the U.K.

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