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All Things Being Equal film and discussion series

September 3–September 5, 2020

Presented in celebration of the Cincinnati Art Museum opening of Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal..., the ATBE film and discussion series features films that honor the themes of Thomas’s work, discussions with scholars, filmmakers, and artists, and a special presentation of short films created in collaboration with Cincinnati nonprofit film-focused organizations.

This page serves as the access point for all aspects of the series, which is free and open to all with a suggested donation to Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, a grassroots organization that supports residents of Cincinnati Art Museum’s neighborhood, Walnut Hills, with direct COVID-19 relief. Support WHRF here.



Community Conversation

Friday, September 4, 2020 | 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Filmmakers, educators and youth advocates working in the medium of film, festival organizers—these just begin the list of people who comprise Cincinnati’s film community. Join for a conversation about how this community inspires and generates change through film, how it is thriving, and what it needs in the context of a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Our guests are Selena Burks-Rentschler, foster youth advocate and writer/director of films including Saving Jackie (2004); Chenney Chen, producer and co-founding member of Plum Street Productions; Allyson West, Executive Founder and Director of Cindependent Film Festival; and Obalaye Macharia, Brianna Maybury, and Kiante Williams, co-authors of short film FIRST DAY OUT (2020). Moderated by Emily Bauman, CAM Film Programmer, Moving Images.


Conversation with the Artist

Friday, September 4, 2020 | 7–8 p.m.

Join Dr. Omotayo Banjo, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati, Damon Jones, Chief Communications Officer at Procter & Gamble, Alandes Powell, BLM Cincinnati Visionary and co-founder of Black Art Speaks, and Hank Willis Thomas for a critical conversation about art, advertising, and social change.


Hank Willis Thomas selected a list of films that have influenced his work and worldview for a series in dialogue with Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… upon its debut at originating venue Portland Art Museum; the series was presented in collaboration with the Northwest Film Center and organized by film programmer Morgen Ruff. We are pleased to offer a selection of films drawn from Thomas’s list.

"These films impacted my life and whole understanding of the power of art to shape our notions of the truth and therefore reality." – Hank Willis Thomas

  • American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, ongoing access, September 3–5 
  • They Live, Saturday, September 5, 2020, access 5 p.m.–midnight
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Saturday, September 5, 2020, access 5 p.m–midnight
  • Shorts Speak Cincinnati, a presentation of short films created in collaboration with film-focused organizations citywide, ongoing access, September 3–5, 2020


Special feature – available to view on demand, throughout the September 3–5, 2020 series:
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Directed by Grace Lee, 2013. United States, 82 minutes

American Revolutionary plunges us into Boggs’s lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century: from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggs’s constantly evolving strategy – her willingness to re-evaluate and change tactics in relation to the world shifting around her – drives the story forward.

Saturday night only – available from 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, September 5, 2020:
They Live

Directed by John Carpenter, 1988. United States, 94 minutes, rated R

Advanced registration required to view

John Carpenter’s science-fiction action allegory They Live imagines a world in which aliens exploit humankind through subliminal messages hidden in mass media. Writing under pseudonym Frank Armitage, Carpenter adapted the premise of Ray Nelson’s short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” (1963) to depict hero John Nada (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) equipped with glasses that reveal the dark hidden truth.

Registration required by 4:30 p.m., Saturday, September 5, 2020.

Post-Film Conversation
They Live, 1988 and today: Russell Ihrig and Evan Torner

CAM Associate Director of Interpretive Programming and host of Art Palace podcast Russell Ihrig sat down with Dr. Evan Torner, University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor of German Studies and Film & Media Studies and director of the UC Game Lab for a look at media messages, surveillance, and more in John Carpenter’s They Live and the art of Hank Willis Thomas.

Listen to the Conversation

Conversation Transcript


Saturday night only – available from 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, September 5, 2020:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Directed by Michel Gondry, 2004. United States, 108 minutes, rated R

Advanced registration required to view

© 2020 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved

Joel (Jim Carrey) is stunned to discover that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he contacts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), to have Clementine removed from his own memory. Working from Charlie Kaufman’s original screenplay, Gondry paints a dreamlike exploration of love, pain, memory and perspective.

Registration required by 4:30 p.m., Saturday, September 5, 2020.

Shorts Speak Cincinnati

In a project originated within the Hank Willis Thomas Community Committee, we invited Cincinnati film festivals and nonprofit organizations supporting filmmakers to nominate a short film that honors themes in Hank Willis Thomas’s work. Each film was either selected for inclusion in a recent Cincinnati film festival or was made by Cincinnati filmmakers – through Shorts Speak Cincinnati, we share a sampling of the voices of the Cincinnati film community.

The resulting presentation of films represents the work of filmmakers at all stages in their careers, encompassing youth projects and international award-winning films, speaking to topics including gun violence, race, the significance of perspective, and the power of individuals to make change.

Films may deal with mature thematic content and imagery. Viewers may wish to read synopses and view at their own discretion.

Shorts Speak Cincinnati is made possible by the generosity of energy and ideas of the following organizations:

  • Academy of Cinematic Arts
  • Cindependent Film Festival
  • Fourthwall Youth Studios
  • Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati
  • Mayerson JCC Jewish & Israeli Film Festival
  • Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival
  • Voyageur Media Group
  • Women in Film Cincinnati


Written and directed by Iván Sáinz-Pardo, 2016. Spain, 20 minutes
Nominated by Cindependent Film Festival

Ainhoa is 9 years old and she has left home, bringing only her school bag and a Playmobil. "Ainhoa is a story that, instead of trying to put children to sleep, tries to wake up the adults."

Sáinz-Pardo holds a degree in film and television by the prestigious Munich Film School (HFF München). He works as director and screenwriter in film and advertising and as Consultant Content in the international image stock company Framepool. He has won more than 200 Awards at film festivals around the world, an Academy Award (Oscar) pre-nomination, GOYA 2018 prenomination, Deutscher Kurzfilmpreis nomination, and Best European Short Award at the International Fantasy Film Festival of Brussels.

Cindependent Film Festival awarded Ainhoa its 2018 Best International Short.


Directed by Martha Reifenberg and Saunders Swan, 2018. United States, 5 minutes
Nominated by Academy of Cinematic Arts

Beautiful is a narrative film inspired by Divya Kumar and her poem, “Mixed Race and Mixed Up.” In artful sentences, she navigates plural identity. In front of a long and skinny microphone, she deconstructs racial stereotypes. There is something for us all in the coming-of-age film.

Reifenberg is a rising senior at the University of Cincinnati. Also a self-published fiction writer, she is interested in portrayals of intersectional feminism and nature in the short story format. In 2018 she found creative beginnings in film production with peer Saunders Swan. Swan, a rising senior at Northwestern University, is an aspiring social impact entrepreneur. She discovered a passion for social justice and the portrayal of "silenced" stories while working alongside Reifenberg. Currently, Saunders's interests focus on inequities in health and education.

Beautiful received two Golden Lion Awards for "Best Short Narrative Film" and "Most Inspirational Film” at the 2018 Golden Lion Awards High School Film Festival. Now in its eleventh year, the Golden Lion Awards HSFF is produced and directed by the Academy of Cinematic Arts.

Beneath the Ink

Directed by Cy Dodson, 2018. United States, 13 minutes
Nominated by Mayerson JCC Jewish & Israeli Film Festival

As society's belief systems are seemingly changing, or even reverting in time, one Ohio artist is challenging his community by saying, "bring me your mistakes.” Inspired by recent events, Billy Joe White and his Red Rose Tattoo Studio are promoting one simple concept…ERASE THE HATE. Beneath the Ink is a timely look at hate and racism in the western foothills of this Appalachian region that reveals heartfelt stories of change and redemption.

Beneath the Ink was shot in Dodson’s hometown of Zanesville, Ohio. Dodson sends special thanks to everyone at Red Rose Tattoo, especially Billy White, who made this film possible. Dodson currently resides in Minnesota, where he is the owner/operator of production company Triumph Pictures, LLC.

Mayerson JCC Jewish & Israeli Film Festival awarded Beneath the Ink as its 2020 Short Film Audience Favorite.

Don’t Tell Me

Ti’Asia Boner, Angela Ramirez Puac, Nayeli Ramirez Puac, and Leah Young, 2016. United States, 2 minutes
Nominated by Fourthwall Youth Studios

Don't Tell Me is a short film produced by Nayeli and Angela Ramirez Puac, Ti'Asia Boner and Leah Young. They are middle and high school students who attended a Fourthwall Youth Studios summer film camp in 2016. Other than Nayeli and Angela, who are sisters, none of the team knew each other or had worked on films before. But they all had one thing in common: they had each encountered racism. They decided to bring awareness to this issue by using a "spoken word meets film" approach to their work. They had two weeks (60 hours) to produce this short including writing the original poem, learning how to use cameras, audio and editing equipment, developing a production plan, and shooting all of the footage before completing their final edit.

Don’t Tell Me was selected to the 2016 White House Student Film Festival, competing against over 1500 other submissions from around the country. As one of only 25 films selected, the team was subsequently invited to the White House in recognition of their work.

Fanny Pack

Directed by Uttera Singh, 2016. United States, 11 minutes, TV-PG
Nominated by Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati

Fanny Pack is an award-winning comedy about a young Indian American woman who wants to follow her dreams, and a fanny pack clad Indian father who chases his daughter through an airport hoping that she will follow his.

Singh is an MFA graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where Fanny Pack was her thesis film. She is the recipient of the Ryan Murphy Diversity Fellowship. Singh was selected to co-direct the USC/James Franco feature film The Mad Whale (2017) starring Camilla Belle, Dominic Rains, Summer Phoenix and James Franco.

Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati awarded Singh its 2017 Best Director Short Film Comedy for Fanny Pack.

First Day Out

Written by Brianna Maybury, starring Obalaye Macharia. A short film by Brianna Maybury, Kiante Williams, Obalaye Macharia, Myriah Kissel, Rae’ven Reed, Angelina Boyle, Kyle Ballman, Adam Mueller, Sean Campbell, Will Harding, Alexander Frederick, and Ethan Simon, 2020. United States, 10 minutes
Made in Cincinnati State’s short film production class
Nominated by Women in Film Cincinnati

When 18-year-old Dante Thomas is arrested from the back seat of his cousin’s car, he ends up in prison. At first, he is weak, dejected, and bored. Then he dreams about all the things he'll do when he gets out. He decides to use the time to stay in shape and write. Twelve years later, on his first day out, an anxiety-ridden trip to the grocery store leads him to a simple encounter that makes him feel human.

Based on a true story as told by one of the writers, First Day Out was written, produced, and edited by a team of students at Cincinnati State.

Life Lakota

Directed by Ryan Knapper. United States, 16 minutes
Nominated by Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival

A glimpse into the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the challenges they face as a nation, a cultural enigma, and a piece of American heritage, too often forgotten.

Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival awarded Life Lakota 2019 Grand Jury Documentary Short.

Sanctuary: At Home with Kathy Y. Wilson

Emily Buddendeck, Kathy Y. Wilson, Tom Law and Beth Fowler, 2017. United States, 12 minutes. Contains strong language
Nominated by Voyageur Media Group

Author Kathy Y. Wilson opens the door to her East Walnut Hills home, a space she has filled with things that feed her creativity, including a collection of beautiful artworks by regional African American artists, as well as her collection of racist objects Wilson calls “Negrobilia.” She explains, “It’s nervy to display it, and it’s nervy to want it, and it’s nervy to purchase it. And I call it liberating. I call it freeing.” Voyageur Media Group produced this intimate video portrait of Wilson’s space in conjunction with 2017 Weston Art Gallery exhibition Sanctuary: Kathy Y. Wilson Living in a Colored Museum.