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

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Encore Broadcast Date: October 11, 2012

PBS Premiere: September 13, 2011


If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front explores two of America’s most pressing issues — environmentalism and terrorism — by lifting the veil on a radical environmental group the FBI calls America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.” Daniel McGowan, a former member of the Earth Liberation Front, faces life in prison for two multimillion-dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. What turned this working-class kid from Queens into an eco-warrior? Marshall Curry (Oscar®-nominated Street Fight, POV 2005) provides a nuanced and provocative account that is part coming-of-age story, part cautionary tale and part cops-and-robbers thriller. Winner of Best Documentary Editing Award, 2011 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS in association with American Documentary | POV, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (90 minutes)

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TAGS: arson, dissent, domestic terrorism, earth first, earth liberation front, ecoterrorism, elf, environment, environmental movement, if a tree falls documentary, oregon, revolution, terrorism

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Film Information

If a Tree Falls (90 min.)

Premiere Date: September 13, 2011

Encore Broadcast Date: Oct. 11, 2012

Streaming Dates: Expired

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmaker: Marshall Curry Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Oscar Nomination Press Release | Press Release for Broadcast | Fact Sheet | Critical Acclaim | Press Release


Marshall Curry
Marshall Curry

I'm always intrigued when reality cuts against my expectations or stereotypes. How did this guy — who could be anyone's little brother, or employee, or next-­door neighbor — wind up facing life in prison for 'eco-terrorism'?”

— Marshall Curry, Filmmaker


Film Update

Critical Acclaim

[A] sterling example of journalistic documentary, clearer, fairer and more engrossing than any of the sensationalistic newspaper or magazine stories about ELF.”

— Andrew O'Hehir,

Grade: A... The film sweeps us up like a thriller... a fantastic moral ambivalence”

— Owen Gleiberman,
Entertainment Weekly

The film's sobriety and carefully balanced arguments make it an exemplary piece.”

— Stephen Holden,
The New York Times

5-stars: [The] filmmakers raise questions and stir public debate about the definition of terrorism, especially in the post 9/11 security environment...very compelling.”

— Jennifer Merin, Documentaries

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