Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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

The Earth Liberation Front was an ecoterrorist sect that, throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, targeted deforesting companies and was declared by the FBI as the greatest domestic terrorist threat to the United States. "If a Tree Falls" tells the history of this group, while following one of its members while he awaited trial for his role in an arson attack against an Oregon lumber company. Marshall Curry's documentary is both an engrossing account of the radical organization as well as something that I didn't expect it to be: fair and balanced. Curry neither glorifies nor castigates his protagonist Daniel McGowan, but simply tells his story and that of the ELF with openness and style, an approach that is largely lost in the world of documentary filmmaking.