Monday, December 12, 2011

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

By the time a news story strikes and involves someone taking any type of radical action the context for how the individuals and organizations involved conceived that their idea was remotely a good idea.

Such is the case with the radical environmentalist in the earth liberation front who have been characterized by doing significant damage to corporations primarily through arson and other forms of vandalism.

The document If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, the film follows Daniel McGowan while on house arrest as he's pending a court case after a multi-state FBI investigation is able to pin Daniel to many serious arson crimes, primarily in Oregon.

In terms of the movement, the films presentation of the Earth Liberation Front was a story tracking the evolution of how environmentally conscious teens when from letter writing campaigns, to protest, to non-violent resistance, to criminal action. The film makers (Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman) are given a gift in the trial and exposure of the secret cell.

In terms of the principle film character, Daniel, the question wasn't whether Daniel was guilty of criminal activity, but rather whether he should be viewed as a terrorist, and questioning what the appropriate punishment was for an activist who's criminal days seemed behind him, who in addition to serious jail time is also be prosecuted as a terrorist.

Finally, I think for me personally, the lingering question I ask is questioning social change. Particularly how protest fits in a world where political influence seems to be weakening, public outrage is easily splintered into a wide variety of camps, and corporations make decisions based on income verses democratic principles.

If A Tree Falls... is one of the 15 films listed for this years Academy Award nomination for documentary.

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