PORTLAND -- Portland has become a hot spot for filming in recent years, but a new documentary shows a different side of the Rose City.

The HBO film American Winter chronicles the daily struggles of Portland families affected by the economic downturn. For many of them it was the first time they had sought help from social services, or from anyone else.

The filmmakers--the team also behind HBO's Taxicab Confessions --say it's no coincidence they picked Portland to film for an entire winter.

We felt Portland was kind of relatable, said filmmaker Joe Gantz. People in the middle of the country could relate to Portland more than L.A. or New York.

Two of the film s subjects, Jeannette and 11-year-old Gunner, lost their husband and father recently. They slept in a garage and a car before turning to a shelter. Jeannette says it was hard to let people film such a painful time in her life.

Like all the other families featured in the film, Jeannette and Gunner ended up living meal by meal, day by day.

Some of the families featured in American Winter attended Sunday's screening at the Portland Art Museum.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts also attended the screening. The film will air on HBO March 18.


KGWReporter Abbey Gibb contributed to this report.

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