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Arsonists With a Cause

Long before “going green” became a ubiquitous buzz term in American culture, the Earth Liberation Front was doing its part to protect the planet’s ecosystem, one arson attack at a time. Directors Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman’s new documentary, If a Tree Falls, charts the rise and capture of a group of ELF activists, whose use of property damage on environmentally unfriendly edifices throughout the ’90s and ’00s led to the label “eco-terrorism.” In presenting crimes in which no human ever was injured, the film gains much of its depth by critiquing the subjectivity of domestic terrorism charges, which have grown increasingly dubious in the wake of 9/11. This multilayered documentary convincingly offers all sides of the thorny, divisive debate, but whatever side you land on, the Earth is the ultimate loser. Both the ELF’s radical approach and the peaceful protest movement appear futile against the mass demolition of our natural forests. In its evenhanded way, the film is enraging. It opens Friday at Living Room Theaters at FAU, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $5 to $9.50. Call 561-549-2600, or visit
Fri., Sept. 2, 2011


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