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Protester, Frente de Libertação da Terra
Protester, Frente de Libertação da Terra

If a Tree Falls

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

Directors: Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman

Year: 2011

Genre: Documentary

Length: 85 min

Official website: www.ifatreefallsfilm.com


In the USA in December 2005, a police operation resulted in the dismantling of a cell of the radical environmental group Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the capture of all of its fourteen members, described by the FBI as “the biggest internal terrorist threat” to the country. For a number of years, the ELF – operating in anonymous cells and without a centralised leadership – carried out multiple acts of sabotage, with huge media exposure, against companies they accused of destroying the environment. The narrative follows the trial of Daniel McGowan, a cell member and ordinary citizen, whose despair about the destruction of the environment progressively leads him to commit extremist acts, and he finally ends up accused of eco-terrorism and facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. The film, however, presents all the parties involved, from McGowan’s comrades and other environmentalists to businesspeople and the security forces. The result is an intelligent film which invites viewers to reflect deeply both about the limits to how far you can defend a cause and the justice of that cause, about defending the environment as well as the economy, and also about what we regard as terrorism. “If a Tree Falls” has not yet been screened in Portugal, but it has received great critical and public acclaim, and was a prize-winner at the Sundance festival and was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary in 2012.



Protester, Earth Liberation Front
Protester, Earth Liberation Front
Photo: T.J.Watt
ELF, Fire at Superior Lumber
ELF, Fire at Superior Lumber.
Photo: Roy Milburn

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