Liu Wins 2011 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award main content.

Liu Wins 2011 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award

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Three men walking down a muddy road
Yuanchen Liu received the 2011 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award for his documentary "To the Light," which profiles Chinese coal miners. © Yuanchen Liu

Yuanchen Liu, who directed To the Light, a profile of Chinese coal miners, was named the winner of the 2011 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award at the Margaret Mead Film Festival’s closing night on Sunday, November 13. The award honors filmmakers that embody the spirit of renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead while showing artistic excellence and originality of storytelling.

To the Light made its U.S. premiere at the 35th Annual Margaret Mead Film Festival on Saturday, November 12. The documentary follows various coal miners laboring to feed China’s mushrooming need for energy. Despite the perils of the profession, China’s working poor continue to flock to the mines for jobs, with some toiling to pay off fines for violating China’s one-child policy and others seeking the only living wage close to home. Filmmaker Liu goes underground with the miners and chronicles the dangers they must face every day.

This year’s Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award jury was led by Darren Aronofsky, the Academy Award-nominated director ofBlack Swan and The Wrestler. Aronofsky was joined by Karen Cooper, director of New York City’s Film Forum; Liz Garbus, Academy Award-nominated director of Bobby Fischer Against the World and The Farm: Angola, USA; and 2002 MacArthur Fellow Stanley Nelson, director of the Emmy-winning documentary The Murder of Emmett Till.

Other nominees for the 2011 award included Vit Klusák for All for the Good of the World and NošoviceBettina Büttner for Kinder, Robert Nugent for Memoirs of a Plague, Floris-Jan van Luyn for RainmakersMarian Kiss for Space Sailors, and Caroline Leitner, Daniel Mazza, and Giuseppe Tedeschi for Small Kingdom of Lo.

This is the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award’s second year. Last year’s winners, Marc Francis and Nick Francis, explored China’s pursuit of business opportunities in Zambia and the resulting economic and cultural divides in When China Met Africa.