A film by Peter Hutchison, Lucas Sabean
2021, 82 minutes
No. 401

When West Virginia broke away from Virginia in 1861 at the start of the American Civil War, its founders did not agree upon the Confederacy or the role of the state in the war. They were, however, united in their interests around the extraction and exploitation of the rich resources of the state – predominantly coal and timber – what would prove to be the dominant theme throughout the history of West Virginia

Devil Put the Coal is a holistic look at the impact of this legacy and the ravages of extractive industry and corporate power, as it has affected the people, communities and the environment of West Virginia. Consciously eschewing exploitative filmmaking around the opioid epidemic or poverty, the film focuses on its people – all linked by the love of their home state and desire to stay put against all odds.

Structured upon personal storytelling from native West Virginians, the film draws upon their rich experiences and diverse perspectives in order to create an informal “People’s History of West Virginia”. These individuals run the gamut – from recovering opioid addict, to environmental activist, to U.S. Congressional candidate, to town judge, tor ecovery center nurse, to corporate environmental lawyer, to struggling local business owner – all of whom, despite their differences, remain linked by the love of their home state and the challenges that threaten their survival, and way of life

Winner, Best of Fest, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Winner, Jury Award - Best Feature Film, Green Film festival of San Francisco
Winner, Audience Award - Best Feature Film. Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Official Selection, Virginia Film Festival
Official Selection, Sarasota Film Festival

"Emotional. Required viewing for environmentalists."- Thursday Matinee

“A masterfully conceptualized, deeply moving documentary that fearlessly and empathically dives into the complex entanglements between extraction, coal mining, the opioid epidemic,corporate greed, poverty, public health, and environmental degradations.Its web-like structure and gorgeous, carefully hewn cinematography rejects the voices of outside experts and instead makes space for the voices and resilience of everyday people living through these multiple crises, a searing history from below.” - Patricia Zimmermann, Director of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival