Foreclosure documentary airs in Olympia

February 20, 2014

A film highlighting the personal stories of Northwest families facing foreclosure will be shown in Olympia as part of a program at Seattle University School of Law aimed at helping distressed homeowners.

The Pierce County Foreclosure Prevention Roundtable hosts a screening of the documentary "American Winter" at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Capitol Theater, 206 5th Ave SE, Olympia. The stories of families struggling to make ends meet and avoid foreclosure show the need for community involvement and legislative action.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Reserve your seat at Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

The documentary, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz ("Taxicab Confessions," "The Defenders"), follows eight families struggling in the wake of the economic downturn. Shot over the winter of 2011-12 in Portland, this powerful film reveals the human impact of budget cuts to social services, rising poverty and economic inequality, and the fracturing of the American Dream.

Guests are invited to stay after the film for Q&A with a panel of experts, including Rep. Tina Orwall, prime sponsor of the Foreclosure Fairness Act; Bruce Neas, Columbia Legal Services, foreclosure project coordinator and lead homeowner negotiator on the Foreclosure Fairness Act; Robert Jones, Department of Financial Institutions; Marc Cote, executive director of the Homeownership Resource Center; and Angeline Thomas, moderator and staff attorney with the Foreclosure Mediation and Outreach Project at Seattle University School of Law.

The entire Washington state legislature is invited to this event, with the goal of reaching policy makers, but it is also open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend.

The Foreclosure Mediation and Outreach Project is a collaboration between the law school's Access to Justice Institute, Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, and several legal aid organizations aimed at better educating homeowners about their options when facing foreclosure. Law students hold monthly legal clinics for homeowners and work with partner attorneys to expand outreach and foreclosure prevention services to low- and moderate-income homeowners under Washington's Foreclosure Fairness Act. The project is focused on Pierce County, which has some of the state's highest foreclosure rates, as well as disproportionately low numbers of foreclosure mediation requests; however, the project also works in King and Snohomish counties.

"American Winter" premiered on HBO in March 2013 and won Best Documentary Award at the Portland International Film Festival and "Best of the Festival" at the Workers Unite! Film Festival.

Angeline Thomas, Foreclosure Mediation & Outreach Project Attorney, Seattle University School of Law, 206-398-4304,