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Devil Put the Coal in the Ground

Directed by Peter Hutchison and Lucas Sabean
Documentary Feature
United States | 82 min | 2021

Uniquely structured upon the personal storytelling of native West Virginians, Devil Put The Coal In The Ground is a meditation on the suffering and devastation brought on by the coal industry and its decline. From the realities of a crumbling economy, to the ravages of the opioid epidemic, to the irreparable environmental damage and its tragic impact on human health – the film is a cautionary tale of unfettered corporate power, and an elegy to a vanishing Appalachia.


Winner of the People’s Choice Award
Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), 2021

The Best Feature Documentary Award
Indy Film Fest, 2022

The Cercle d’or for Best Feature Documentary Award
Sherbrooke World Film Festival, 2022

The Grand Prix Documentary Award
Rising Sun International Film Festival, 2022

The Silver Award for Best Feature Documentary
Tokyo Film Awards, 2022

The Dr. Sydney K. Shapiro Humanitarian Award
Phoenix Film Festival, 2022

The Best Editing of a Documentary Award
Madrid International Film Festival, 2022

The Excellence in Editing Award
Docs Without Borders Film Festival, 2022

The Best Editing Award
Brussels World Film Festival, 2022


“Truly a rare moment in Cinema… This film is a marvel”
Mélikah Abdelmoumen & Marc Béland, CBC Radio Canada

“An Exquisite Gem. Tenderness, wonder, & dignity…
a beautiful film about beautiful people”
Richard Propes, The Independent Critic

“Anyone who watches Dear Audrey will undoubtedly conclude
that Hayes is a masterful filmmaker”
Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight

“Touching… luminous… truly magnificent”
Caroline Levesque, CBC Radio Canada

“Dear Audrey, a riveting documentary…
that stands as a powerful paean to passion and perseverance”
Evelyn C White, The Halifax Examiner

“…so many amazing lessons, stories, emotions with pain
and celebration intertwined”
Darren Wiesner, Hollywood North Magazine

“It’s impossible to watch this documentary, (a People’s Choice Award winner), without being overwhelmed by its sweetness and generosity”
Silvia Galipeau, La Press

“…an at once ethereal reflection on the enduring power of love,
and unblinking revelation of life’s steel-cold realities”
Chris Cook, Gorilla Radio

“The central force of Dear Audrey is the eternal, almost implacable force of love that binds people together through the most difficult times”
Dorothy Woodend, The Tyee

“Dear Audrey celebrates the very best the human heart has to offer, with such compassion, artistry and grace”
Terre Nash, Oscar-winning director

“A Stunning Love Story You Won’t Soon Forget!”
Indy Film Fest

“This love story will bring you joy, hope, tears and humility…”
Dr. Jen Hammersmark, Mind Your Madness

“…a beautiful homage to Audrey, to the couple’s
love and their family”
Nantali Indongo, CBC Radio

“Beautiful, touching … ‘Dear Audrey’ is a testament to
what Audrey was and what she remains forever”
Rob Wilson, The Bobr Times

“Poignant and could not be more authentic”
Amandine de Chanteloup, Le Collectif

The West Virginia Documentary grew organically out of our recent films Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation (Submarine Entertainment, 2020) and Angry White Men: American Masculinity in the Age of Trump (Grasshopper Films 2018).

In effort to find the roots of the much-discussed “American disenfranchised man”, we traveled to Boone County, WV – a region reputed for its poverty and dizzying opioid addiction rates. We assumed we’d find “Angry White Men” there – middle Americans disgruntled by lack of economic opportunity and a government that had seemingly turned their backs upon them – the stuff that sows the seeds of discontent and, as the pundits had informed us, given rise to the Alt-Right.

Instead, we experienced something quite different – in place of anger, we encountered proud and resilient West Virginians, struggling to survive and cope with the environmental and economic devastations that not only threatened their way of lives – but their survival itself.

Unable to incorporate the content, we sat on the footage for a number of months while we completed the other projects. But we found ourselves returning to the material time and time again – pulled in by the haunting nature of the footage and incredible raw honesty of the interviews, laden with an excruciating longing and a deep sense of loss.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that both directors have had hands-on experience with the dynamics of addiction and recovery – making the material particularly resonate. Regardless, we knew we had a story that needed to be told – both in terms of the dark legacy of extractive industry and corporate greed in the “Mountain State”, as well as an incredibly misunderstood and often-maligned group of Americans, who wound up with the shit end of the American Dream.

Devil Put The Coal In The Ground poster

Devil Put the Coal in the Ground - Peter HutchisonPeter Hutchison

Peter is an award-winning filmmaker, NY Times Bestselling author, educator and activist.

He produced & directed “Requiem for the American Dream: Noam Chomsky and the Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power” (Netflix). A NY Times Critics Pick and #1 selling doc on iTunes, the book version of the film was a NY Times Bestseller (Seven Stories Press).

He most recent film, the critically acclaimed “Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation” (A Freestyle Digital Media/ Journeyman Pictures Release) is currently in virtual theatrical release. The film examines the root causes of hate group activity through the bold work of former Skinheads & neo-Nazis, now engaged in de-radicalizing violent extremists, and transforming attitudes of intolerance.

His longstanding commitment to issues around male identity has resulted in the films: “You Throw Like A Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity” (MEF), “Angry White Men: Masculinity in the Age of Trump” (Grasshopper), and “The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics from Nixon to Trump” (MEF).

His numerous films include “What Would Jesus Buy?” (Sundance Channel Feature), “SPLIT: A Divided America” (IFC Choice Indie), it’s follow-up “SPLIT: A Deeper Divide” (The Documentary Channel), and “Awake Zion” (Film Buff).

He holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Addictions and Systems Dynamics.

Devil Put the Coal in the Ground - Lucas SabeanLucas Sabean

Lucas Sabean is an editor, producer and filmmaker, whose output includes independent narrative & documentary features, and a large body of experimental work.

Co-founder of Eat the Moon Films & Big Tent Productions, he has produced & edited Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation (2019, Journeyman Pictures), directed & edited Angry White Men: American Masculinity in the Age of Trump (2018, Grasshopper Films) and produced & edited the upcoming The Cure for Hate: Bearing Witness to Auschwitz.

He recently directed, produced & edited The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics From Nixon to Trump (2020, Media Education Foundation) and directed, produced & edited You Throw Like A Girl: The Blindspot of Masculinity (2020, MEF). He was a “Filmmaker of Tomorrow” at the Telluride Film Festival for his short film Relievio (1999). His films include, End of Era (Underground Zero, 2003), and The Last Stand (Best Feature, Backseat Film Festival, 2008). Choreographer Paul Taylor has called his experimental films “superb – like poems made visible.” He has an MFA from Boston University in Film Production.

Film Information

Director: Peter Hutchison and Lucas Sabean
Country: United States
Year: 2021
Language: English
Runtime: 82 min
Rated:  PG-13


Producer: Peter Hutchison, Lucas Sabean, David Kuhn
Graphics & Animation:Megan Toenyes
Composer: Landon Knoblock
Music: Steve Earle, Iris Dement

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