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Cheshire, Ohio

Filmed over a decade, CHESHIRE, OHIO follows a community devastated by coal, starting with American Electric Power's buyout and bulldozing of this Ohio town after exposing residents to harmful emissions. Years later, the film returns to the now almost emptied town to follow the case of 77 plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit against AEP for cancer and other diseases they developed from working unprotected at the plant's coal ash landfill.

Told poetically with beautiful archival footage and photographs, CHESHIRE, OHIO provides an intimate look at the demise of one American town sacrificed for power, and the continued cost of coal to us all. The voices of residents, environmental lawyers and others paint a complex, layered story of a quintessential American town devastated by industry in a state considered a battleground in the 'war on coal.'

'Cheshire, Ohio is a story of Appalachia, of power and control by American Electric Power, disregard for the community and people of Cheshire, and in essence, the region and beyond...The story is a personal one, so much that you know the residents and in essence become a resident. This film is timely...As a resident of the region and an environmental studies instructor this film is invaluable. Stories of extractive industries modeling realities and the people who live these stories greatly need documentation. Cheshire, Ohio brings this Appalachian Ohio reality to the screen.' Loraine McCosker, Environmental Studies, Ohio University

'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, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Director, Atmosphere/Energy Program, Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

'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 provides a powerful insight into a rural community being torn apart by fossil fuel pollution...This documentary explores the dirty aftermath, and what comes next, when the air is no longer safe to breathe. It really brings home the experience and consequences of living with serious air pollution, with stories and characters that stay with you long after the film has ended' Clare Lakewood, Staff Attorney, Climate Law Institute, Center for Biological Diversity

'Cheshire, Ohio is a captivating and unsettling tale of rural environmental injustice. This film weaves together local voices to reveal the personal sacrifices made for the sake of employment and the love of one's home-place. Highly recommended for communities and classrooms looking to learn more about the social ramifications of fossil fuel energy development and the limits of environmental regulation and litigation.' Elyzabeth W. Engle, Rural Sociology and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Environment, The Pennsylvania State University

'Morgenstern looks at the creation of a modern day ghost town subtly, allowing the audience to raise the obvious questions without having everything spelled out for them...It's a work of great empathy and righteous anger.' Andrew Parker, The Gate

'Cheshire's story is singular and yet all too common. While there's no other example of a company buying out an entire town, the impacts of coal pollution, and the challenges those still residing in Cheshire face, are a daily reality for far too many communities across coal country in Ohio and the rest of the country. Cheshire, Ohio is a lesson, a warning, and a reminder.' Neil Waggoner, Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club

'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, Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club

'This film is a moving meditation on the human cost of our nation's dependence on coal. The story it tells is a simple yet compelling one, with energy conglomerate American Electric Power set against the Cheshire community. Undoubtedly, the documentary will work well for both classroom use and activist organizing.' Chad Montrie, Professor of U.S. Environmental and Social History, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, Author, The Myth of Silent Spring: Rethinking the Origins of American Environmentalism

'This film shows in striking human terms why we must move quickly to clean energy. No other community should suffer as this one has. We have to produce energy in a way that does not make people sick, pollute our air, or produce millions of tons of waste containing toxins.' Mr. Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center

'This disclosing documentary depicts the violence of big capital...The influence of the plant named after a war hero unpleasantly symbolizes the changed values in the world...The fight is still on, but it's sad to realize our lives are already too dependent on the logic and convenience of capitalism.' Seol Suan, Green Film Festival in Seoul, South Korea

'Cheshire, Ohio is a tough but moving film about the death knell of a formerly beautiful Midwestern village, brought to its knees by the toxicity of a power plant. A contemporary American Tragedy, the film is powerfully told by director Morgenstern, who evokes the innocence of town dwellers in places like Cheshire - and what happens to them when big business betrays them.' Marc Glassman, The Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival


Main credits

Morgenstern, Eve (film director)
Morgenstern, Eve (film producer)
Connell, Kim (editor of moving image work)
Connell, Kim (film producer)

Other credits

Editor, Kim Connell; director of photography, Katherine Patterson; senior story consultant, Judith Helfand; music, Red Hooker.


coal, coal ash, fly ash, bottom ash, war on coal, american electric power, appalachia, buyout, AEP, cancer, blue plume, dirty energy, gavin plant, ohio,; "Cheshire, Ohio"; Bullfrog Films