Past Film/Video | Documentaries

Cincinnati Goddamn

(April Martin and Paul Hill, 2015)


Despite the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, April Martin and Paul Hill's searing 2015 documentary Cincinnati Goddamn never, unfortunately, ceases to be timely or urgent. With events unfolding currently in Columbus, including the killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant on the same day as that verdict, in Minneapolis, and across the country, we felt this would be an appropriate time to share it again.

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. The film was created over the course of several years with support from our Film/Video Studio program. (103 mins., digital video)

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

More about the film

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.

Cardinal Health
Kaufman Development

Rohauer Collection Foundation

Greater Columbus Arts Council
L Brands Foundation
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
Bill and Sheila Lambert
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation
Adam R. Flatto
Arlene and Michael Weiss

Michael and Paige Crane
Axium Plastics
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Ohio State Energy Partners
Washington Prime Group
Lisa M. Barton
Nancy Kramer
Paramount Group, Inc.
Business Furniture Installations
E.C. Provini Co., Inc.
New England Development
Our Country Home


Past Film/Video

Cincinnati Goddamn