September 2011

"Putty Hill"

by Matt Porterfield, opens September 29, 2011

filmstills from Film Putty

A beautifully realized portrait of a close–knit community on the outskirts of Baltimore, PUTTY HILL is the second feature from celebrated young filmmaker Matt Porterfield (HAMILTON). At a neighbourhood karaoke bar, friends and family gather to remember Cory who died of an overdose at 24. Knowing little about his final days, they attempt to reconstruct his life. In the process, they offer a window onto their own lives, an evocative picture of working-class America, dislocated from the progress and mobility around them, but united in pursuit of a shared dream.

It is the film's great gentleness that allows both the places and the protagonists to speak for themselves. An invisible, yet omnipresent interviewer asks them questions, listening to their answers about their relationship to Cory, about the funeral, about school, about what comes after death. A documentary touch in a film that moves most delicately between staging and improvisation, you might think. Or rather a method to allow precisely this boundary between filmic narrations to take centre stage in the film. (Anna Hoffmann, Berlinale Forum)

Matt Porterfield about his film:

I was raised in a Baltimore suburb wild with unkempt hedges, disheveled lawns and porches, yards full of car parts and swimming pools, and a church or a bar on every corner. This neighborhood, located just inside the city line, is the inspiration for much of my work and sets the scene for Putty Hill. From 2007 through 2009, I was at work writing and developing an original screenplay, Metal Gods, a coming-of-age tale about a group of metal-heads skirting the fringes of Baltimore city. It was a timely script. And we were poised to make it in the summer of ’09, but financing fell through. In its wake, I developed another scenario, using many of the actors cast for Metal Gods and others I’d found along the way and wished to work with. On paper, it was a five-page treatment anchored by one line of written dialogue and 15 precise locations in which I wanted to shoot. During production, however, it became something else entirely: a work of intense collaboration and magic. Putty Hill is not quite like anything I’ve ever seen. On a most basic level, it is an amalgam of traditional forms of documentary and narrative realism. But it is an approach to realism in opposition to the anthropological, lyrical, and romantic currents present in most of the genre. More importantly, though the structure of the film was plotted, the details of individual scenes were largely improvised, breathing life into the dialogue and bringing an enhanced degree of naturalism to the relationships between characters. I had already established firm bonds with my cast working with them on Metal Gods, so they trusted me enough to take risks and bring a level of emotional honesty to the material.


"Putty Hill is visually an incredibly beautiful film, made out of lights, colors, voices, and is practically impossible to describe with words." (Elena Meilicke, Schnitt Magazine)

"A triumph of salvage. Not to be missed." (Avery Hudson, Ground Report)

Country/Year: USA 2010, Length: 87 Min., Format: HDCam, BluRay, Version: English with German subtitles Screenplay: Matt Porterfield, Jordan Mintzer, Director: Matt Porterfield, Camera: Jeremy Saulnier, Production: Hamilton Film Group, Baltimore; Vox3, New York; Putty Hill, Llc., Ridgewood, NY, Cast: Sky Ferreira, Zoe Vance, James Siebor, Jr., Dustin Ray, Cody Ray, Charles "Spike" Sauers, Catherine Evans, Virginia Heath, Casey Weibust, Drew Harris, Marina Siebor

For further information and to watch the trailer please visit