Downloads: Media Alert
Segment to Air on PBS NEWSHOUR Thursday, September 1st. Full Documentary to Air on PBS’ POV Tuesday, September 13th
New York, NY — The Economist Film Project, which presents documentary films that reflect the types of hard-hitting issues The Economist is known for covering, announced today that the documentary If a Tree Falls: a Story of the Earth Liberation Front has been selected as part of The Economist Film Project. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry, the film focuses on radical environmentalism and the rise and fall of one particular cell within the Earth Liberation Front. A special segment from the film will air on PBS NEWSHOUR on Thursday, September 1st. The full documentary will have its national broadcast premiere on Tuesday, September 13th on PBS’ POV (Point of View) series. (Check local listings.)
In December 2005, Daniel McGowan and 13 others were arrested by federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) — a group the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.” If a Tree Falls tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this particular ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members. Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, the film interweaves a verité chronicle of McGowan under house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. The film won the U.S. Documentary Editing Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
If a Tree Falls asks a really important question for our times: what are the limits of legitimate activism in support of a cause?” said Gideon Lichfield, Editorial Director of The Economist Film Project. “Through an unusually close look at hard-line environmental campaigners who were prosecuted as terrorists, Marshall Curry forces us to examine the way we define terrorism today.”
“This is a film that asks more questions than it answers and hopefully challenges audiences of all political backgrounds to step out of their comfort zones and see these dramatic events through different eyes,” added Marshall Curry, the director of If a Tree Falls.
Marshall Curry got his start by shooting, directing and editing the documentary Street Fight, which followed Cory Booker’s first run for mayor of Newark, NJ and was nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy. After Street Fight, Curry was the director and producer, as well as one of the cinematographers and editors of the feature documentary Racing Dreams, which follows two boys and a girl who dream of one day racing in NASCAR, and will premiere on POV in winter/spring 2012. In 2005, Curry was selected by Filmmaker Magazine as one of “24 New Faces of Independent Film” and he was awarded the International Documentary Association Jacqueline Donnet Filmmaker Award. In 2007, he received the International Trailblazer Award at MIPDOC in Cannes. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College, where he studied Comparative Religion and was a Eugene Lang Scholar. He was also a Jane Addams Fellow at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy.
To date, The Economist Film Project has received over 1,000 film submissions. The films chosen for the Project are jointly curated by The Economist and PBS NEWSHOUR. Once a film is selected, a producer from PBS NEWSHOUR works with each director to create six- to eight-minute segments of the films, which then become the focus of special segments airing regularly on PBS NEWSHOUR through 2011. The segments are featured on both the NEWSHOUR and the Project websites ( Additional films selected by The Economist Film Project will be announced throughout the year.
Follow The Economist Film Project on Twitter, @EconomistFilm.
About The Economist
With a growing global circulation (worldwide: 1,473,939; North America: 833,667*) and a reputation for insightful analysis and opinion on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognized and well-read current affairs publications. The paper has sections about each region of the world, plus science and technology, books and arts and the weekly obituary. The website (, with its 5.9 million unique readers, is also accessible through devices including the iPhone and iPad.
*Audit Bureau of Circulations, July-December 2010

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Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.