Our 2023 impact

The filmmakers behind "My Name is Annabel" discuss the film during a panel at the 2023 Chagrin Documentary Film Festival

At Ohio Humanities, we envision an Ohio where people’s unique stories are heard, the past is linked to the present, and a better future is realized together. In 2023, we invested $488,858 in grant funding in Ohio’s stories and storytellers, sparking conversations and inspiring ideas across the state.

Our 2023 Impact Report highlights the ways in which documentary film is integral to our past, present, and future.

The popularity of documentaries reminds us that the humanities are thriving in the public sphere. From celebrating Ohio’s longest-running lesbian bar, to collecting oral histories about folk healing traditions in Appalachia, to providing opportunities to view and discuss documentary films, our partners share meaningful stories that strengthen communities.

ThinkTV Network in Dayton is hard at work producing a documentary about Willis “Bing” Davis, an artist, educator, and community activist from Dayton. Davis’ paintings, sculpture, ceramics, clay, and found object art are known for their explorations of the intersection of race, identity, and history, as well as the power of community and collective action.

Media Heritage, a nonprofit archive that preserves and shares the history of radio, television, and film in Cincinnati and nationwide, used Ohio Humanities grant funding to conduct research and preserve archival video footage for a documentary about the barrier-breaking female journalist Dorothy Fuldheim.

2023 marked our second year as presenting sponsor of the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, a five-day celebration of the art of documentary film in Chagrin Falls. This October, the 2024 festival will draw audiences from all over the world to Northeast Ohio.

We invested in the Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival’s FilmSlam® Road Trip, which hosted screenings and facilitated discussions of Olympic Oaks: Continuing Jesse Owens’ Legacy at several schools and public libraries across Northeast Ohio. This year’s Cleveland International Film Festival will take place April 3-13, and a selection of films from CIFF will stream online April 14-21.

Ohio Humanities grants also supported community events that sparked conversations about documentary films. The Massillon Museum hosted filmmaker Byron Hurt for a Brown Bag Lunch and Q&A about his documentary Soul Food Junkies, which explores the soul food tradition and its relevance to Black cultural identity.

In conjunction with its production of Skeleton Crew, the Contemporary Theatre of Ohio hosted a screening and discussion of The Last Truck, a film from acclaimed Ohio documentarian Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar that provides a firsthand look at the closure of a GM factory in Moraine, Ohio.

Julia Reichert, acclaimed documentarian behind the Academy Award-winning film American Factory, passed away in 2022 at the age of 76. Known as the “godmother of American independent documentaries,” Reichert saw herself as a feminist and curator of Midwestern stories. Ohio Humanities is honored to have been a long-time partner of Reichert, beginning with her service on our Board of Directors from 1986-1992 and continuing through Ohio Humanities’ support of Reichert’s award-winning 2019 film 9to5: The Story of a Movement. We are grateful to have been part of her many years of storytelling.

Support for documentary films is just one slice of our work. Explore the full Impact Report to learn more about how Ohio Humanities directly supported 54 organizations in 14 Congressional districts, reaching over 285,000 Ohioans in 2023.

All of us at Ohio Humanities are honored to be engaged in the meaningful, critical work of sharing stories, sparking conversations, and inspiring ideas in every corner of our state.

Here’s to the continued cultivation of and appreciation for all that it means to be human.