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If A Tree Falls

IF A TREE FALLS offers a rare and provocative look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America’s number one domestic terrorist threat.

Director: Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman
Year: 2011
Time: 85 min

 If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
(2011) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share this film. Give others a chance to learn about these political and environmental topics. Then consider discussing the film together, as there isn’t always an easy or clear answer to all of the questions raised. Talking through it with others and hearing their perspective can be quite useful.

Check out the Civil Liberties Defense Center, a nonprofit organization focused on defending and upholding civil liberties through education, outreach, litigation, legal support and assistance. Lauren Regan, the group’s executive director who provided legal counsel to Daniel McGowan, is interviewed in the film. 

Learn more about critical environmental issues. Earth First offers news on current environmental issues, events and actions, as well as an extensive set of links to other environmental organizations.

Consider what you learned from this film, and whether or not there are any small changes you can make in your daily life to support the values you believe in.

Related Articles and Resources

New York Times Review

“Do crimes against property in which no one is killed or injured constitute acts of terrorism? That is one of two nagging questions that run through Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman’s thoughtful documentary, IF A TREE FALLS. The other question has to do with the efficacy of traditional forms of peaceful protest.”

More on the New York Times.

Daniel McGowan In Extreme Prison Isolation For Writing Things

Read it on the Village Voice.

Daniel McGowan, Live from Little Guantanamo

The Huffington Post interviewed Daniel while he was serving his sentence in federal prison.

Whatever Happened to ‘Eco-Terrorism’?

“To those who have studied radical movements, the unprecedented prosecution of environmental activists represents the end of an era,”

The FBI once called radical environmental activists the “number one domestic terror threat,” but crimes of “eco-terrorism” are practically non-existent now.

Read the article on the Pacific Standard.


Six films addressing the environmental issues of our time.

The Native Forest Council

The Native Forest Council’s mission is to protect America’s National Forests
and other public lands from logging and exploitations.

Find out more here.

To Catch a Terrorist: The FBI hunts for the enemy within

A comprehensive, illuminating article from Harper’s Magazine about the U.S. targeting people pre-emptively, or before they’ve actually committed a crime, and using informants for more than just gathering information.

Earth First!

This is the group that gave rise to the Earth Liberation Front. Members in 13 different countries say “Earth First! is effective. Our front-line, direct action approach to protecting wilderness gets results.” Learn more about Earth First! here.

Director Marshall Curry: “This movie has a point of view. It’s complex.”

In an interview with IndieWire, director Marshall Curry tells how he first met Daniel McGowan and what he wanted to achieve by stretching everyone’s point of view.


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