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Putty Hill

USA 2010, 89 min

North America’s new generation X. Matt Porterfield’s celebrated festival-hit! 


Cory dies of a heroin overdose in an abandoned house in Baltimore. On the eve of his funeral, family and friends gather to commemorate his life. Their shared memories paint a portrait of a community hanging in the balance, skewed by poverty, city living, and a generational divide, united in their pursuit of a new American dream.

Press reviews

Porterfield’s sophomore effort is remarkable, not least for the results it achieves from extremely modest means.... there are moments here of startling compositional grace, flashes of awkward honesty and discomforting intimacy. (Shane Danielsen, indieWIRE)

Matt Porterfield’s Putty Hill is many things simultaneously: an enigmatic teen-film, a study of America, a subtle social drama – Porterfield doesn’t judge anyone, not the old nor the young, not the middle class nor the US sub-proletariat that people insist on dismissing as ‘white trash.’ Putty Hill is not a story in the traditional sense. But that is exactly the strength of this film: in the fragmented and the enigmatic lies the only chance for realism. (Stefan Grissemann, Profil)

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)

Among the more adventurous films in the [Berlinale] Forum section... Matt Por-terfield’s Putty Hill, set among alienated kids in suburban Baltimore, also subverts its realist aesthetic with formal trickery, encouraging its actors to break the fourth wall. (Dennis Lim, The New York Times)

Awards and Festivals

- Berlin International Film Festival – Forum (World Premiere)
- SXSW Film Festival – Emerging Visions (North American Premiere)
- BAFICI Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival – Competition
- Thessaloniki International Film Festival – Competition
- Era New Horizons International Film Festival – Competition
- CPH PIX International Film Festival – Competition
- Atlanta Film Festival – Competition
- Viennale International Film Festival – Official Selection
- Independent Film Festival Boston – Official Selection
- Maryland Film Festival – Official Selection

Additional Texts

Matt Porterfield on PUTTY HILL

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 that will resonate with audiences.


Director and Screenplay
Matt Porterfield
From a Scenario by
Matt Porterfield, Jordan Mintzer
Sky Ferreira, Zoe Vance, James Siebor, Jr.Dustin Ray, Cody Ray, Charles “Spike” Sauers, Catherine Evans, Virginia Heath, Casey Weibust, Drew Harris
Director of Photography
Jeremy Saulnier
Marc Vives
Art Director
Sophie Toporkoff
Costume Designer
Sara Jane Gerrish
Location Sound
Phil Davis, Nick Rush
Sound Mix
Ben Goldberg
Jordan Mintzer, Steve Holmgren, Joyce Kim, Eric Bannat


PUTTY HILL and HAMILTON were released on one DVD.

Country Code
PAL / Color
PUTTY HILL 89 min + HAMILTON 65 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
DD 2.0
Softbox (Set Content: 1)
From 12 Years