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2011 Sundance Film Festival: Green Documentaries To Watch For

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The 2011 Sundance Film Festival kicked off this week (20th-30th) and we’re once again on the cusp of some amazing films that will shortly grace theaters around the world.

Like past years, we’re particularly interested in the documentary category — since films of this nature tend to create serious discussion and reverberate socially once they reach a mass audience. Works like “The Cove”, “FUEL”, “Gasland”, and “An Inconvenient Truth” all took part in Sundance during their early showings — and all are still talked about today.

There are two main green-themed films being shown this year: “The Last Mountain” and “If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”. Let’s take a quick look at each one.

The Last Mountain

A few years ago, I read the eye-opening book “Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness” that chronicled the shearing away (through strip-mining) of the top of Kentucky’s aptly named Lost Mountain. It was as sad as it was enlightening and shed new light on the destructive lengths energy companies will go to harvest coal.

From what I’ve read, “The Last Mountain” brings that book to life — and early reviews from Sundance indicate that it’s just as powerful.

“Mountaintop removal has destroyed 500 Appalachian mountains, decimated 1 million acres of forest, and buried 2000 miles of streams,” writes James Greensburg of The Hollywood Reporter. “Flashing the figures on the screen in bold graphics is a bit distracting, but there is no denying their impact. Haney and his team have rounded up an impressive collection of academics, writers, and organizers from around the country, but it is the locals who tell the story most powerfully.”

Could this be the year that anti-strip mining orgs see more awareness thanks to “Last Mountain”? Let’s hope this one gets picked up fast. Check out a trailer below:

If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

“If A Tree Falls” is tackles the subject of “eco-terrorism”, focusing specifically on the Earth Liberation Front. It revolves around the arrest of Oregon-based activist Daniel McGowan in 2005 and how he went from concerned citizen to charges of terrorism for his participation in ELF-related arson plots.

“Everywhere we looked, our expectations were challenged,” said director Marshall Curry. “Characters said the opposite of what we expected. People who we thought might be fanatical on one side or the other turned out to be thoughtful. Things we thought would be clear, were actually quite complex. And there were no easy heroes or villains.”

Check out an interview with the creators below — as well as footage from the film:

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