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If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011)

Trailer
2:09 | Trailer
A rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.'

Directors:

Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman (co-director)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel McGowan Daniel McGowan ... Self - Earth Liberation Front Activist
Lisa McGowan Lisa McGowan ... Self - Daniel's Sister
Tim Lewis ... Self - Activist & Filmmaker
Kirk Engdall Kirk Engdall ... Self - Assistant U.S. Attorney
Jim Flynn Jim Flynn ... Self - Former Editor, Earth First Journal
Jenny Synan Jenny Synan ... Self - Daniel's Girlfriend
Susan Synan Susan Synan ... Self - Jenny's Mother
Bill Barton Bill Barton ... Self - Native Forest Council
Leslie James Pickering Leslie James Pickering ... Self - Former ELF Spokesman
Greg Harvey Greg Harvey ... Self - Detective, Eugene Police Department
Chuck Tilby Chuck Tilby ... Self - Captain, Eugene Police Department
Suzanne Savoie Suzanne Savoie ... Self - Daniel's Ex-Girlfriend
Steve Swanson Steve Swanson ... Self - President, Superior Lumber
Chuck Wert Chuck Wert ... Self - Executive Vice President, Superior Lumber
Don Rice Don Rice ... Self - Manager, Jefferson Poplar Farms
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Storyline

IF A TREE FALLS is a rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.' With unprecedented access and a nuanced point of view, the documentary tells the story of Daniel McGowan, an ELF member who faced life in prison for two multi-million dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. The film employs McGowan's story to examine larger questions about environmentalism, activism, and terrorism. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Daniel McGowan - Earth Liberation Front Activist: When you're screaming at the top of your lungs and no one hears you, what are you supposed to do?
See more »

Connections

References Tree Sit: The Art of Resistance (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Afraid of Everyone
Written by Matt Berninger (as Matthew Berninger) and Aaron Dessner
Performed by The National
Licensed Courtesy of 4AD Limited
Published by Jester Music (ASCAP) and ABD 13 Music (ASCAP) administered by Bug
See more »

User Reviews

 
Fascinating....but perhaps a bit misguided.
27 October 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This is a documentary about the Earth Liberation Front--an environmental terrorism group that has been associated with over 1200 cases involving vandalism. Their most extreme actions have involve fire bombings of businesses, National Park Service buildings, research labs and many other targets.

The film focuses on several folks who got caught up in various terrorist activities--in particular a guy now living in New York named Daniel. Most of the first half of the film appears to excuse or at least mitigate the fire bombings by these folks and make them and their cause seem valid. Now SOME of the ELF actions seemed very reasonable--such as camping out in trees so that they could at least present their case to the local city council. Others could clearly kill people and have damaged property that, in some cases, has NOTHING to do with harming the environment. In fact, in some cases, the ELF bombings caused MORE damage than if the businesses had simply been left alone. Or, they attack businesses that MIGHT be argued are helping the environment (such as a slaughterhouse that kills wild horses--something SOME environmental groups actually endorse since the horses are not native and damage the land).

So what about the quality of the film? Well, at first I hated it, as it seemed to only present a pro-ELF position. But, fortunately, as the film progresses they do present more folks who are working to stop the ELF--though, on balance, the film seems to be more pro-ELF than anti. This is NOT a complaint--it's almost impossible to present a film that is 100% neutral. And, at least it's neutral enough that I could see people on BOTH sides of the environmental war taking something from the documentary--so it's definitely worth seeing and is well-crafted. I don't have to agree with a film to respect it--and this film is an excellent example.

Finally, perhaps it's just me, but I was a bit taken by many of the pro-ELF folks, as they seemed to enjoy the fruits of modern life and, in some cases, decry the evils of capitalism. Had they lived in the wild and eschewed modern amenities, I would have respected them MUCH more. Give up the TVs, modern homes, internet (including IMDb), cars, store-bought clothing and all the other things that come from the evil corporations--then you have a much more valid case. In the meantime, word 'hypocrisy' seems quite appropriate.


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Details

Official Sites:

Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front See more »

Filming Locations:

Oregon, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,634, 26 June 2011

Gross USA:

$61,794

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$61,794
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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