News and Documentary Alumni Wins Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award

We are thrilled to announce that Yuanchen Liu, a 2010 graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, News and Documentary, won the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award for his graduate thesis documentary, “To the Light.”

Yuanchen’s experience covering stories in underdeveloped communities gave him the belief that documentaries can be a powerful tool to bring attention to pressing social issues. “To the Light” takes an intimate look at a community struggling to survive in hard economic times. For many, coal mining has become a principal source of income and the only alternative to factory jobs in distant cities. But the mines are notoriously dangerous, annually claiming an estimated 5,000 lives. In the documentary, Yuanchen overcomes the challenges presented by filming underground and provides access to what would have otherwise been an untold story. For more on the film:

Over the past several years, Journalism News and Documentary students have worked with composers from the Scoring for Film and Multimedia program in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The beautiful score for, “To The Light,” was composed by NYU student, Edward Underhill as a result of this creative inter-school collaboration.

Yuanchen’s professors Marcia Rock, Jason Samuels, Shimon Dotan and Cora Daniels congratulate him on this wonderful recognition of his hard work and artistry.

Ethan wrote this about the experience:

Everything unfolded just so quickly. I was talking to a magazine writer about my film and we were all waiting for the announcement. I didn’t prepare anything, absolutely nothing. And Darren Aronovsky (Black Swan) went onto the stage, started to comment on the award. And he said, “it’s a film about a place that we’ve never seen before. It is an absolutely incredible film that everyone should see.” Then he quickly announced the winner, To the Light. I jumped out of my chair and went up to the stage, shook hands with Darren, and he delivered the award to me. And I said a few things on the stage – thanked the Margaret Mead Festival for choosing my film knowing it is only a student film shot with a SD camera, and not only choose it for the festival, but also give it the top award. I was so excited and elated and almost cried. Images of the past experience living in that village for four months with the miners, following them to the underground, and everything just flowed into my mind. To achieve something like this in China would be impossible. I hope the recognition of the film will help get it seen in China so more Chinese can understand the plight of the miners.