Down and Out in America
July 22–October 18, 2020
In Down and Out in America, the current state of American politics is seen in its first monstrous stages.Richard Brody, New Yorker
Long unavailable, Lee Grant’s Oscar-winning 1986 documentary Down and Out in America was recently preserved by the Academy Film Archive and is finally back in circulation. Shot in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and New York City, the film takes an unflinching look at a cross-section of Americans whose financial security evaporated as a result of the Reagan administration’s implementation of so-called “trickle-down economics.” Grant shows the real human cost of fiscal policy as family farms and factories became insolvent, unemployment soared, and the social safety net unraveled. In Los Angeles Grant documents an imperiled tent city whose inhabitants have worked to create a safe, supportive community as they try to get back on their feet. In New York City, she interviews a once working-class family who, after losing their home in a fire, are trapped by the bureaucracy of poverty, warehoused in a vast slum lacking the most basic amenities, their future uncertain. “A powerful, bracing, mournful film” (Richard Brody, New Yorker).