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.'


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





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


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

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Did You Know?


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


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Performed by Britney Spears
Jive Records
Publishers/Administrators: Colgems EMI Music Inc. and Universal Polygram International Publishing Inc.
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User Reviews

Good, but left me wanting more
11 September 2020 | by wavecat13See all my reviews

A good documentary about a fascinating subject, but it opened up a lot of questions and left me wanting more. For example, a look at Wikipedia shows you that ELF did not begin randomly in Oregon in the late 90s, but in fact started in the UK and Europe. I wanted to learn more about these organizations - their views, their actions, and their leaders. The documentary shows pictures of the people involved, but we learn very little about them, and often don't even hear their names. One of them was even described as a rich, foxy internet executive, who did a little arson on weekends - but who the heck was she? Also, the trials aren't covered at all. However, the filmmakers do give us a full look at one of the group's leaders, a seemingly harmless soul named Daniel "Sorrel" McGowan, and we also get to see interviews with detectives and prosecutors who worked hard on the case, and got the ELF labelled terrorists. They were not terrorists because they did not kill random civilians - what they did was destroy property. And the fires they set are nothing compared to the fires that are burning in Oregon as I write this because of climate change.

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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


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,634, 26 June 2011

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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