Now Film/Video | Documentaries

Cincinnati Goddamn

(April Martin and Paul Hill, 2015)


April Martin and Paul Hill's searing 2015 documentary Cincinnati Goddamn never, unfortunately, ceases to be timely or urgent. With events unfolding in Minneapolis, in Columbus, and across the country, we felt this would be an appropriate time to share it again. The film was created over the course of several years with support from our Film/Video Studio program.

Released as 2013’s Black Lives Matter movement gained traction in the United States, Cincinnati Goddamn investigates the city’s complicated history with antiblack racism and police brutality. The feature-length documentary brings these issues into focus through incidents involving 29-year-old Roger Owensby Jr. and 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. Between 1995 and 2001, Cincinnati police killed 15 black men including Owensby and Thomas, ultimately resulting in 2001’s citywide boycotts, riots, and unrest. Hill and Martin’s exhaustive reporting includes perspectives from all sides of the conflict, including Owensby’s father, mother, and daughter; Thomas’s mother; attorneys for the Owensby and Thomas families; former Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen; local police (some of whom participated in the incidents); and many others. The film is further contextualized through interviews with leading black historian Manning Marable (1950–2011) and writer and civil rights activist Michelle Alexander.

"Cincinnati Goddamn suggests that the fractured bones of America can only heal if communities are willing to fight to change the systems that control them."
Los Angeles Review of Books

Through the use of archival material, dashcam video, recordings of court proceedings, and clips from a Dateline profile of Cincinnati police, Hill and Martin create a portrait of a broken system and community. Although a coalition of activists and clergy worked with the ACLU, Cincinnati city officials, and the Department of Justice to craft and implement new police reform policies and procedures, the officers involved in the deaths of Owensby and Thomas were never found guilty of any serious wrongdoing, and the film raises serious questions about whether police profiling and abuse of black suspects in Cincinnati (and elsewhere) will ever change. (103 mins., digital video)

This video is subtitled.
Content advisory: the film contains police brutality and abuse, violence, racism

Cincinnati Goddamn was the subject of a compelling Director’s Dialogue screening and panel discussion in 2015.
Click here to visit the event page and watch the talk.

More about the film
Cincinnati Goddamn website
Review: “A Tale of One City: ‘Cincinnati Goddamn,’ Los Angeles Review of Books
Review: “Film wants world to see effect of police deadly force on blacks,” Columbus Dispatch

A black man stands in front of a line of Cincinnati police officers.

Photo: Melvin Grier

Four black men hold signs protesting the killing of young black men.

Photo: Melvin Grier

 People rally outside in protest. Someone holds a sign that says "Please stop killing our future".

Photo: Melvin Grier

Two black children look at the camera while one holds a sign that says "No Justice, No Peace".

Photo: Melvin Grier

A black women holds a photo out to a line of police officers.

Photo: Melvin Grier

A black woman holds onto a struggling child in front of a line of mounted police officers.

Photo: Melvin Grier

Cincinnati Goddamn was made with the support of the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio.

Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation

Huntington Bank
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kaufman Development
Cardinal Health Foundation


Now Film/Video

Cincinnati Goddamn