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

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

Original Title: If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Director: Marshall CurrySam Cullman
USA | English
2011 | 85min. | Colour
Format: HDCAM
15+
The latest documentary from Academy Award nominee Marshall Curry (Street Fight) reconstructs the recent history and eventual demise of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The film focuses on Oregon-based activist Daniel McGowan –a nice, middle-class young man driven by his passionate concern for the environment –who ultimately finds himself brought to trial as a terrorist for his complicity in ELF-related actions.

From 1995 until early 2001, the ELF was involved in a dramatic arson campaign directed against businesses it accused of destroying the environment –timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses and even a ski lodge in Vail, Colorado. Eventually, in 2005, the FBI led a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists, and McGowan was arrested. By that time, he was living and working in New York City and, while still politically active, was long removed from his past association with ELF.

Drawing from a rich collection of archival footage and interviews with ELF members and the prosecutor and detective chasing them, If a Tree Falls weaves together the multiple points of view that form this complex story into a harrowing examination of the meaning and consequence of political action in post-9/11 America. This cautionary tale of the personal and political cost of standing up for one’s beliefs will serve as a springboard for discussion for generations to come.

–Jim Browne

Contains: Adult themes

Director,  Marshall Curry, 

Director,  Marshall Curry

Marshall Curry got his start directing, shooting and editing with Street Fight (2005), which was nominated for an Emmy and an Academy Award. His next film, Racing Dreams (2009), won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival. Curry’s third documentary, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, was also nominated for an Academy Award. Point and Shoot won Best Documentary at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Curry is based in Brooklyn.

Sam Cullman

Sam Cullman

Sam Cullman codirected, shot and produced the Oscar-nominated documentary, If a Tree Falls and was a producer and director of photography on the Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning The House I Live In. His camerawork has appeared in dozens of documentaries including King Corn and Why We Fight. Jennifer Grausman directed and produced the Emmy-nominated documentary, Pressure Cooker. Grausman also coproduced 3 Backyards and has produced six short films. Previously she was the manager of exhibition and film funding at the Museum of Modern Art.

Cast and Crew

Director
Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman
Production Company
Marshall Curry Productions
Producer
Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman
Foreign Right Sales
Films Transit International
Executive Producer
Stephen Bannatyne
Screenwriter
Marshall Curry, Matt Hamachek
Editor
Matthew Hamachek, Marshall Curry
Cinematographer
Sam Cullman
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