Leslie James Pickering & If A Tree Falls - Campus Speaking Tour 2013-2014

Posted Wednesday September 4th 2013 by Jen Angel

In 2011, the documentary film If A Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front told the story of the ELF and their prosecution by law enforcement. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 and has been widely acclaimed — critics have lauded it as "brilliant," "engrossing," and "compelling." (Jen wrote a review of the film on her personal blog here.)

We believe that the issues raised in the film — the conflation of activism and terrorism, the escalation of tension by law enforcement — are still urgent today.

We are supporting a tour this year of a screening and speaking tour of "If a Tree Falls" with Leslie James Pickering, former ELF Press Office spokesperson. By introducing "If a Tree Falls" and taking questions afterwards, Leslie provides a broader historical and political context to the film, providing a deeper understanding of the radical environmental movement, the role that repression plays in radicalizing movements and individuals, and what’s really at stake with the environment.

If you would like to bring this presentation to your campus or community group, please email Jen.


More about Leslie James Pickering:

Leslie James Pickering was Spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front Press Office, for which he’s given numerous public presentations and has been featured throughout the national press.  He’s also an author, owner of Burning Books and is featured in the film.  Last September, Leslie discovered that law enforcement was monitoring his mail, the FBI had questioned an old friend of his, a grand jury subpoena was issued for records pertaining to him and he has been put on a special list mandating additional security screening while traveling on commercial airlines.

ArtVoice: The USA vs Leslie James Pickering

The New York Times: US Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement

Leslie's website (includes audio and video of Leslie speaking): http://lesliejamespickering.com/


More about If A Tree Falls:

The film's website: http://www.ifatreefallsfilm.com

Background on Daniel McGowan: http://www.supportdaniel.org

In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front-- a group the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado. With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members. Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thrilller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism. Drawing from striking archival footage -- much of it never before seen -- and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with timber companies and law enforcement, and the word "terrorism" had not yet been altered by 9/11.

Select Praise for If A Tree Falls:

"An extraordinary documentary...[a] fearless exploration of complexity in a world drawn to oversimplified depictions of events and problems, heroes and villains."
- Andrew Revkin, The New York Times

"Very thoughtful and articluate... pushing past the familiar activists-vs-the-corporate-state paradigm to hear from those whose sympathies lie on both sides."
-- Steven Boone, Chicago Sun Times

"Power mix of violent confrontation between police and activists, ultimately propels the film into a call for action and change."
-- Thomas Logoreci, Dox Magazine

"5-stars: [The] filmmakers raise questions and stir public debate about the definition of terrorism, especially in the post 9/11 security environment...very compelling. "
- Jennifer Merin, About.com Documentaries

"Curry has crafted something complex and worthy of attention, a film that asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism."
- Pamela Biery, Orion Magazine

A "remarkable and moving film... The environmental documentary genre can be ripe for groupthink and complacency, and occasionally I find myself refreshed to see a doc that forces viewers to challenge their own preconceptions and opinions. If a Tree Falls, currently playing in theaters is one such film."
- Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader

"A truly fascinating documentary that unravels the complex morality of taking on a cause, this movie is the perfect starting point for what we can only hope is a continuing discussion of how to care for the planet."
- Katherine Monk, Vancouver Sun

"Engaging... The film addresses thorny issues surrounding deforestation, dissent and civil (and uncivil) disobedience in the post-9/11 era." 
- Anthony Kaufman, The Wall Street Journal online

"A great film for anyone who likes to think about some of the most important, difficult issues of our time."  
- Rick Marianetti, Examiner.com