The Dallas International Film Festival announced If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front, as the 2011 Environmental Vision, Grand Jury prize winner. Along with this honor comes an additional screening of the film.
I was able to catch the first screening, and if you love the environment, hate the environment, or aren't really sure where you fall, this one is a must see. While I wish they would have focused a little bit more on developing and giving information about the corporate side of the story, I felt that directors Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman did a great job of stepping back and allowing the former Earth Liberation Front (or ELF) members tell their story.
The Earth Liberation Front is an environmental group that is considered the United State's number one domestic terrorist threat according to the FBI. They were responsible for several multimillion dollar arson attacks in Oregon and in other parts of the country. If a Tree Falls follows the story of Dan McGowan, a former ELF member, who faced life in prison for his part in the arson cases in Oregon. While the majority of the film focuses on McGowan and how this fairly unmotivated kid turned into an environmental fundamentalist, it also gives a look into the cast system that seems to have been an integral part of the "success" and downfall of ELF.
This film is insightful, disturbing, and even frightening. It shows how quickly a well-intentioned group of people looking to preserve our environment turned into what many consider to be a terrorist organization. It also gives a look into the justice system and how new forms of terrorism create a need for an adjusted and augmented penal code. The final screening of this film will be at the Angelika in Plano at 4pm today and is not one to be missed.