Matt Porterfield’s Putty Hill is a delicately composed feature film set in a close-knit, working-class suburb of Baltimore. A fictional tale that slips in and out of documentary modes, the film takes place in the aftermath of a young man’s death, following his friends and acquaintances as they ready for his funeral and wake, which finally takes place at a local bar. The characters are all portrayed by young non-actors, playing versions of themselves, at times speaking with the director as if being interviewed. Porterfield and his performers create a rich and unsentimentalized portrait of lives lived on the hard edge of economic reality, and of relationships made more tenuous in the face of existential uncertainties. Putty Hill is a collective coming-of-age film, depicting a generation that finds itself on the cusp of adulthood in a time that presents few options for the future.
Matt Porterfield’s work is being screened in the Museum’s second floor film & video gallery May 2 through 6.