A gun toting 83-year old woman refuses to sell her house to the power plant next door. But despite her refusal, the plant has moved ahead with their 20 million dollar deal to buy out most of Cheshire and bulldoze all the homes. What happened in this Ohio River town overrun by one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world? A story of money, power and the increasingly difficult choices we face surrounding coal and the environment, Cheshire, Ohio makes us think twice about home.
Filmed over a decade, Cheshire, Ohio follows a community devastated by coal, starting with American Electric Power’s buyout and bulldozing of this Ohio River community after exposing them to years of harmful emissions, and then returning several years later to the now almost emptied town as we follow the case of 77 plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit against American Electric Power for cancer and other diseases they developed from working unprotected at the plant’s coal ash landfill site.
As the cycle of pollution from coal continues, we see how one quintessential American town suffers from our reliance on carbon energy.
Produced by Rainlake and Evenfall, in association with Chicken & Egg Pictures.
Director: Eve Morgenstern
Editor: Kim Connell
DP: Kat Patterson
2016, 78 minutes
“A truly eye-opening film behind a dark chapter in American history, the takeover of small, rural towns by coal-fired power plants and the resulting pollution and social damage they cause, with Cheshire, Ohio as the example. I highly recommend this film.” – Mark Jacobson, Professor, Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
“A vital film…shows firsthand the human cost of dirty energy. It is a harrowing and compelling story that hammers home the point: coal kills, fossil fuel companies care more about profit than people, and now more than ever, we need to pay attention to the true stories of our frontline communities.” – Bruce Nilles, Sierra Club
“A moving and sensitive treatment of an issue of national significance – the true cost of coal. The film beautifully captures the issue on a human scale with the poignant story of the cost borne by one small American town that lost everything. An important cautionary tale bravely told by those who refuse to surrender.” – Lisa Evans, Senior Counsel, Earthjustice
“Cheshire, Ohio pulls back the curtain with a meticulous, personal portrait of normal Americans living normal lives only to slowly learn that they are being subjected to toxic fallout from coal burning at a local electricity plant. It is a chance for all of us to draw from the lessons that have been hard-learned by the residents of Cheshire.” – Dr. Brian Black, Editor, Energy and Society
“Morgenstern’s documentary raises important issues about place, people and trauma… This is something to ponder: what it means for one’s home, one’s place, to transform into a new nature, to become deranged and unfamiliar, no longer safe… If place and trauma have occupied environmental historians’ attention for years, Cheshire, Ohio illustrates for us what trauma meant for one working community in the contemporary Midwest.” — Bob Johnson, Environmental History Journal, Oxford University Press
FESTIVALS & AWARDS
Winner Free Press Award, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Winner Best Documentary Feature, Knoxville Film Festival
Winner, Sir Edmund Hillary Award, Mountain Film Festival
Official Selection, San Francisco Green Film Festival
Official Selection, Green Film Festival Seoul Korea
Official Selection, Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival
Official Selection, Cleveland International Film Festival
Official Selection, Sustainability Film Series, Athens & Columbus, Ohio
Special Jury Award, Frozen River Film Festival
Official Selection, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Official Selection, Green Film Festival in Seoul Korea
Official Selection, Green Lens Film Series, DeKalb IL
Official Selection, Gateway Theater Ohio Home Grown Series, Columbus Ohio
Official Selection, The Appalachian Studies Conference