A week before the announcements of the Academy Award nominations, I was jonesing for some Academy fodder, but was avoiding films I thought would definitely be nominated as to not have to watch them immediately again in a couple weeks. So, I picked some films that were being considered but that I didn’t think could possibly be nominated. That led me to watching “If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”. With the documentaries that were being considered, “If A Tree Falls” did not strike me as one that could win against the likes of “Buck” and “Project Nim”. Low and behold, it ended up getting nominated over those two.

What I liked most about “If A Tree Falls” is the use of interviews, images, and actual documented footage to support the film’s narrative. We are introduced to a former member of the Earth Liberation Front who is being convicted as a terrorist (or eco-terrorist). We are given the facts and history of the group and why they’ve done what they’ve done, including major protests and even arson. We are even introduced to police officers whose job it was to find these “terrorists” and the lumber mill owners who were “victims” of the attacks. Though the documentary takes a rather middle-ground approach, it tends to side very heavily with the E.L.F. groups.

Though I do feel “Buck” and “Project Nim” were completely snubbed and wish to see the results that caused them to be overlooked for nominations, “If A Tree Falls” is one of those documentaries that is informative and reflective of current issues that is done so in a very organic way, much like last year’s “GasLand” and the previous year’s Oscar winner, “The Cove”. Early on, “If A Tree Falls” sets the bar high for the rest of the documentaries in the category.

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