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Think Out Loud

If a Tree Falls

Pete Springer/OPB

The Oscar-nominated film If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front documents the events and people involved in a series of arsons beginning in the 1990s in Oregon. Those crimes, committed by members of the radical environmental  Earth Liberation Front (ELF), were successfully prosecuted as terrorism.

New York filmmaker Marshall Curry was exposed to the story almost by chance. As he recounts in the beginning of the film, one December day in 2005 (long after the ELF had disbanded) four federal agents entered his wife’s office and arrested one of her employees. That employee, Daniel McGowen, became one of the main characters in the film that traced the beginning of the movement and it’s ultimate demise.

The film also follows the law enforcement officers that brought the cell to justice. Along the way, the film raises questions about the the definition of terrorism and the roles of activism and law enforcement in a democratic society. If a Tree Falls is out on DVD, live streaming on Netflix and will open for a second run at the Bijou theatre in Eugene this Friday.

What would you like to ask him about the movie or its subjects?

documentary film earth liberation front terrorism

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OPB | Broadcast: Feb. 13, 2012