Activist Documentaries are a genre that I find truly compelling. Documentary is commonly used as a tool for social change, but for a viewers entire mindset to be altered in 90 minutes is something I find very interesting.
If a Tree Falls (2011) is not only an activist documentary, but it also documents the story of people dedicated to a lifestyle of environmental activism.
The New York Times noted the films ‘sobriety and carefully balanced arguments [that] make it an exemplary piece of reporting’ which is an interesting review considering a lot of activist-documentary films find themselves being dis-credited when reporting a single strong view point.
And the trailer is an activist tool in itself – as you watch, you’ll hear ‘arson’, ‘The Earth Liberation Front’, people being ‘targets’ and ‘Eco-Terrorists’. A scary and threatening image is framed, using flames and footage of riots to entice the drama and fear. The trailer demonises themselves, it’s a tool for the viewer to initially choose a side and be against the group of ‘Eco-Terrorists’.
However, I would challenge anyone to spend the time to watch If a Tree Falls, and to see how they have used the frame which was held against them and perhaps they’ll make you question it.
If a Tree Falls (2011) Dir. Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
The New York Times (2011) Crime against Property as Protests: