Composed entirely of found footage (largely TV coverage), Mary Liz Thompson’s journeyman docu examines extensively reported events surrounding the 1990 car bombing that injured environmental activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, an act for which the two victims themselves were charged but never tried. The film, produced by Cherney, makes a clear and cogent case (later upheld by a court verdict) that police and FBI falsified evidence in order to discredit Bari’s cause. Bowed Nov. 16 at Gotham’s Quad Cinema, this advocacy docu constitutes a heartfelt tribute to the life and work of Bari, who died of breast cancer in 1997.
Bari’s videotaped deposition, recorded weeks before her death, forms the docu’s emotional cornerstone. Thomson also includes copious images of mighty California redwoods, trees that Bari and Cherney, along with other Earth First activists, sought to save. Footage of the duo addressing followers and loggers (Bari attempted to forge common cause with unions in pushing for sustainable logging practices) often includes witty songs performed by Cherney on guitar and Bari on fiddle. One suitably absurdist performance piece demands the release of Bari’s violin, confiscated by the FBI.