April Martin and Paul Hill

Ironically, when the April 7, 2001, riots broke out I had called off “sick” from my job as production assistant at WCPO, the Cincinnati, Ohio, ABC affiliate. I was living a sheltered life in the wealthy, predominantly white village of Glendale, a north-lying suburb of Cincinnati. I had no inkling of the police brutality and racism that was happening just 20 minutes south. The day that Timothy Thomas was shot and killed while fleeing Police Officer Stephen Roach forever changed Cincinnati. And me. Once rioting and looting broke out, I was shocked by my co-workers’ cavalier attitudes about blacks’ outrage. I decided that despite not having formal training, I was going to make a documentary about the riots. Armed with a camera, I infiltrated city council meetings, protests and rallies. Seemingly overnight, I morphed from middle-class black slacker to a guerrilla filmmaker and activist.

In January 2006, after compiling more than 200 hours of footage, I applied and was accepted to the Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Studio Program that pairs filmmakers with a professional editor. Studio Manager Paul Hill didn’t know what hit him when I arrived. I wanted Hill to feel and understand the material he was editing. We began each work day with a “racial roundtable:” our bootleg version of “Meet the Press” 2.0. Hill bombarded me with questions everything from Black History Month to his own white privilege. Hill’s consciousness was awakened. He asked to become co-director of  “Cincinnati Goddam.” Through the course of editing our story kept expanding and new information about the police in-custody death of Roger Owensby, Jr. came to light, requiring us to gather more footage and shoot new interviews with prominent people (scholar Manning Marable and Jill Nelson, (the editor of “Police Brutality: An Anthology”) and Michelle Alexander to couch the documentary in a national conversation.  We decided to make an activist piece, a tool to educate communities. For several years we were cloistered in a windowless studio, logging tapes, editing, constantly shooting b-roll and sidestepping legal land mines to bring this film to fruition. My friendship with Paul Hill has grown beyond a mere working relationship to now embody the essence of the old-school civil rights movement: people from disparate backgrounds working closely for the greater good of a seemingly far-fetched ideal that is actually within reach. Justice starts not with one person but with two who are obsessed with it.

PAUL HILL is an award winning filmmaker, editor and sound mixer. He joined the Wexner Center's Film/Video Studio Program in 1996 where he edits with world renowned filmmakers and video artists. He also makes his own documentaries. In 2002 he completed Myth of Father, a personal documentary about his transgendered father, which has been screened and won awards at festivals worldwide and is distributed by Frameline in San Francisco. Through the Film/Video Studio Program Paul has worked on hundreds of projects from filmmakers and video artists including Sadie Benning, Jennifer Reeder, Barbara Hammer, William E. Jones, and Shimon Attie. He was an editor for The Brandon Teena Story, which won Best Documentary awards at several festivals, including the Berlin and Toronto International Film Festivals. He was a contributing editor for the Primetime Emmy winning documentary, A Lion in the House by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar. When he’s not busy making movies or editing someone else’s, he’s usually found watching one while cuddling with his two lovable west-highland terriers. 


April Martin is a femme identified, unapologetically BLACK, hella QUEER Art(ivist). She uses her artistic talents as a documentary filmmaker and photographer to honor Black people in all their magic, beauty, trauma, hope, fears, joy, resilience, and brilliance. In addition to Cincinnati Goddamn, Martin has created other short documentaries with a range of subject matter that includes the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, young women’s health in underprivileged communities, the Kerry James Marshall’s Rythm Mastr Exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Her recent photo series #SayHerName Liberated Chest Action are images of Black women and girls reclaiming a powerful African tradition of bare-chested protest to shut down San Francisco's financial district for several hours during the morning commute. Photographs from the series have been exhibited around the country.

When April isn’t behind the camera, she is fighting for the liberation of black folks through organizing and direct action campaigns. As a member of Oakland based black.seed; a leaderful, consensus-based collective of Black people who believe in the liberation and celebration of all Black People, she has worked on various grassroots campaigns around gentrification, state violence and the well-being of black trans women. On the recent MLK holiday, in a radical display of solidarity and the spirit of MLK, black.seed shutdown the Bay Bridge as a show of resistance to a system that continues to oppress Black, Queer, Brown, Indigenous and other marginalized people throughout the Bay Area.

For her work, April has been awarded a Puffin Foundation Grant, the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Wexner Center for the Arts New Media Artist Award and has received fellowships from Northwestern University and C-Span Television.  In addition, she has been awarded artist residencies at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Headlands Center for the Arts.

April is divides her time between West Oakland, CA and the Midwest.