IMDb > If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011)
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
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If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011) More at IMDbPro »

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

Overview

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Directors:
Marshall Curry
Sam Cullman (co-director)
Writers:
Matthew Hamachek (written by)
Marshall Curry (written by)
Contact:
View company contact information for If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front on IMDbPro.
Plot:
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.' Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
What makes a terrorist? See more (16 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)
Daniel McGowan ... Himself - Earth Liberation Front Activist
Lisa McGowan ... Herself - Daniel's Sister
Tim Lewis ... Himself - Activist & Filmmaker
Kirk Engdall ... Himself - Assistant U.S. Attorney
Jim Flynn ... Himself - Former Editor, Earth First Journal
Jenny Synan ... Herself - Daniel's Girlfriend
Susan Synan ... Herself - Jenny's Mother
Bill Barton ... Himself - Native Forest Council
Leslie James Pickering ... Himself - Former ELF Spokesman
Greg Harvey ... Himself - Detective, Eugene Police Department
Chuck Tilby ... Himself - Captain, Eugene Police Department
Suzanne Savoie ... Herself - Daniel's Ex-Girlfriend
Steve Swanson ... Himself - President, Superior Lumber
Chuck Wert ... Himself - Executive Vice President, Superior Lumber
Don Rice ... Himself - Manager, Jefferson Poplar Farms
Jake Ferguson ... Himself - Earth Liberation Front Activist
Dan McGowan ... Himself - Daniel's Father
Lauren Regan ... Herself - Daniel's Legal Team
Setphen Peifer ... Himself - Assistant U.S. Attorney
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alberto Gonzales ... Himself (archive footage)

Dan Rather ... Himself (archive footage)

Mike Wallace ... Himself (archive footage)

Directed by
Marshall Curry 
Sam Cullman (co-director)
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Marshall Curry  written by
Matthew Hamachek  written by

Produced by
Steve Bannatyne .... executive producer (as Stephen Bannatyne)
Marcia Carver .... executive producer: Lucky Hat Entertainment
Sam Cullman .... producer
Marshall Curry .... producer
Sally Jo Fifer .... executive producer: ITVS
Nick Fraser .... executive producer: BBC
Bill Gallagher .... line producer
Simon Kilmurry .... executive producer: POV
Jo Lapping .... producer: BBC
 
Original Music by
James Baxter 
 
Cinematography by
Sam Cullman 
 
Film Editing by
Marshall Curry 
Matthew Hamachek 
 
Production Management
Allison Davis .... production manager
 
Sound Department
Chad Birmingham .... sound editor
Chad Birmingham .... sound re-recording mixer
Sam Cullman .... sound recordist
Marshall Curry .... sound recordist
Paul Hsu .... sound designer
 
Visual Effects by
Brittany De Nigris .... motion graphics assistant
Joe Posner .... motion graphics
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Marshall Curry .... additional camera
Skye Fitzgerald .... additional camera
Bill Gallagher .... additional camera
Tim Lewis .... additional camera
Jeremy Medoff .... additional camera (as Jeremy Medhoff)
Andy Pratt .... additional camera
Yun Rhee .... archival photography
Chris Teague .... additional camera
T.J. Watt .... still photographer
 
Editorial Department
Katie Earls .... post-production assistant
Tina Grapenthin .... assistant editor
Eric Daniel Metzgar .... editor: promotion reel
Mark Rattelle .... post-production assistant
Yun Rhee .... photo editor
Charlie Rokosny .... colorist
Caitlin Tartaro .... on-line producer (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Marshall Curry .... music clearances
The National .... composer: additional music
Nick Stumpf .... composer: additional music
 
Other crew
Iddo Arad .... legal services: Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz
Jenile Brooks .... intern
Victoria S. Cook .... legal services: Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz
Jason Emerton .... business affairs: BBC
Zach Fox .... intern
Noah Goldman .... intern
Karen Holmes .... intern
Rachel Kolb .... intern
Judy Landau .... production research
Steven Loring .... archival research
Priya Masilamani .... legal services: Lowenstein Sandler
Liza Mueller .... transcriptions
Mike Ohrenberger .... intern
Ann Orrin .... intern (as Anne Orrin)
Denise Pasquinelli .... intern
Ludovic Pronko .... intern
Karen Shatzkin .... legal services: Shatskin & Mayer
Taiki Sugioka .... intern
Kara Suzanne .... bookkeeper
Babette Wielenga .... intern
Davis Wright .... legal services (as Davis Wright Tremaine)
Edward M. Zimmerman .... legal services: Lowenstein Sandler
Dan Berger .... production coordinator (uncredited)
David Magdael .... publicist (uncredited)
 
Thanks
David Cieri .... thanks
Cecil Esquivel-Obregon .... thanks
Liz Garbus .... thanks
Ryan Harrington .... thank you
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
85 min
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Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
References Coal Country (2009)See more »
Soundtrack:
RunawaySee more »

FAQ

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29 out of 31 people found the following review useful.
What makes a terrorist?, 26 October 2011
Author: The_Film_Cricket from Birmingham, Alabama

What are the criteria for being a terrorist? What should be the criteria for a being a terrorist? Is an environmentalist who burns down the empty office of a logging company in the middle of the night comparable to crimes committed by people like Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Is this crime to be put on the same legal shelf as those who fly planes into skyscrapers and kill thousands of people? Ask any three people and you are likely to get three different answers, after all, the people you ask probably aren't the ones going to prison for it.

Marshall Curry's documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front begins by showing us some acts of "eco-terrorism", acts in which radical environmentalists whose peaceful protests have fallen on deaf ears and turned up the heat by setting fires to lumber mills, wild horse corrals, SUV dealerships and meat packing plants. They were called The Earth Liberation Front – or E.L.F. – unorganized group of radicals willing to cause millions of dollars in property damage in the name of keeping corporate America from destroying the planet. The knee-jerk reaction, of course, is to dismiss these individuals as a bunch of over-zealous ya-hoos who just enjoy watching things burn. Yet, the film is something more, as we watch it, we are taken into the lives of some of the members of the E.L.F. and begin to understand what they are fighting for. That leads to questions of whether or not their legal prosecution is really fair.

The E.L.F. get the attention of, not only their targets, but the F.B.I. who quickly labels the group as "The number one domestic terrorist threat" and launches a full-scale investigation of the individuals involved, an investigation that resembles in many ways the F.B.I.'s investigation of the mafia 50 years ago.

What is interesting is that even while we don't agree with what the E.L.F. is doing, the film gives us images that allow us to understand their point of view. We see footage of trees that have stood for thousands of years, blindly cut down. We see horse mills, with hundreds of dead horses hung from the ceiling. We see the heartbreaking sight of a group of legendary trees sawed down to make a parking lot.

We see the protesters themselves, camped out in the trees that are to be cut down, beaten and maced unmercifully by the local police. In a scene that resembles the riots of the 1960s, we see members of the E.L.F. with their faces covered marching into the streets and then beaten and clubbed. The irony is that the members of the group who are clearly guilty of vandalism haven't done any physical harm to other human beings but are being beaten down by law enforcement as if they were murderers.

Let us make no mistake, what the E.L.F doing is wrong, unlawful and is deserving a punishment by law, and yes, jail time. The point is that this film questions the severity of the extent of that punishment. Curry's film moves very deeply into that very question and wonders about the fate of Daniel McGowen, whose story provides the film's bookends, goes under house arrest in his sister's home until his trial in which it will be decided what kind of jail time he will do for the crime of arson. He seems like a nice kid with a sweet voice, somewhere in his mid-20s who smiles a lot, but has eyes that are much more thoughtful, focused and intelligent than most kids his age. When he goes to trial and receives his sentence, we aren't surprised that it is harsh. What does surprise us is the information that McGowan is now going to spend the rest of his life on the government's terrorist watchdog list. Why? His crime, at best, results in malicious vandalism. Why a life sentence on the same list as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the architect of the 9/11 attacks?

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The Rest of the Story? rmatlan
First your property then your lawn, you're missing the whole point! juancarlosadex-250-234756
Very Balanced thanasaki_mtl
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