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Baltimore’s Poverty Poet Matt Porterfield Kickstarts New Film

Baltimore's Poverty Poet Matt Porterfield Kickstarts New Film

Few filmmakers have such an intimate, delicate and artful grasp of white, working-class America.

While most people in Hollywood movies live in $1 million apartments or Los Angeles villas, it’s usually up to independent filmmakers to convey the stories of those living on the fringes, examining the less glossy, but ultimately more real side of the human experience. I’m thinking of directors like Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo), and Baltimore’s new poet of the urban poor, Matt Porterfield.

I’ve talked to Porterfield on a few occasions (here’s an indieWIRE article) and I’m a big fan of his first two features “Hamilton” and “Putty Hill.”

In the comments section of my ReelPolitik manifesto, someone asked “How do you define profound? Give us a list of your top ten profoundly impactful films that address important issues… ” I’ll come up with that list over the next couple days, but I do think “Putty Hill” is a great recent example.

Previously, I wrote, “With a sensitive, emotionally truthful grasp of its characters and nary out an ounce of condescension, “Putty Hill” paints a delicate picture of grief and waywardness in a small community. Not since Lance Hammer’s “Ballast” can I think of an American indie that so deserved to be seen on the big screen.”

Porterfield is planning to start shooting his latest project, “I Used to Be Darker,” in just two weeks, and he needs your help. He’s still got 26 days to go on his Kickstarter campaign, but he’s still got a long way to go to meet his $40,000 goal.

Once again, to be shot in his own backyard of Maryland, the film is described as the story of a Northern Irish runaway, who finds herself pregnant in Ocean City, MD, and seeks refuge with American relatives in Baltimore.

The project sounds like it’s taking Porterfield to some new territory, with more domestic drama–though music, it sounds like, will once again play a pivotal role. (Let’s hope he clears all the rights this time.)

And if you’re not persuaded by my encouragement to contribute, here’s an enticement I haven’t seen before: For those donating $1,000, Porterfield will tattoo your initials on his arm. “He chooses the font.”

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