January 25, 2012 05:00 ET

Two ITVS-Funded Films Receive Oscar® Nomination for Best Doc Feature

Public Television Claims Two of Five Nominations in the Doc Feature Category With "Hell and Back Again" and "If A Tree Falls"

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - Jan 25, 2012) - Independent Television Service (ITVS), the nation's largest public funder of independent film, announced today that two of its acclaimed productions, "Hell and Back Again" (Danfung Dennis, Producer/Director; Mike Lerner, Producer; and Martin Herring, Producer) and "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" (Marshall Curry, Producer/Director; Sam Cullman, Co-Director) have received 2012 Academy Award® nominations for Best Documentary Feature.

Both films will make their way to a national television audience on PBS later this year. "Hell and Back Again" will premiere on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series "Independent Lens" on May 24, 2012. "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" premiered on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series "POV" on September 13, 2011, and will be rebroadcast on PBS in 2012.

"We are simply thrilled to see two extraordinary films receive this honor, and we are proud to bring both to a national audience on PBS," said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS. "We are also grateful for the far-sighted commitment of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, whose support makes ITVS's investment in these projects possible."

ITVS funds and presents more than 60 documentaries each year, with most films broadcasting on leading PBS series including "Independent Lens," "POV," "FRONTLINE," "American Masters," and others. "Hell and Back Again" is the second consecutive Oscar® nomination for "Independent Lens," which last season brought us the acclaimed film "Waste Land" -- a best documentary nominee in 2011. This is the fourth nomination for an ITVS-funded film premiering on "POV"; previous nominees include "My Country, My Country" by Laura Poitras; "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" by Rick Goldsmith and Judith Ehrlich; and 2006's "Street Fight," also by this year's nominee Marshall Curry.

"These nominations show once again that public media is where the real action is -- the critical issues of our democracy," added Fifer. "These honors prove that many of the best stories and programs come from independent producers who are supported by diverse communities and a sense of citizenship, not by commercially-driven media seeking to satisfy commercial advertisers -- that's the real difference."

"Hell and Back Again"
The film follows the U.S. Marines Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, as they launch a major assault on a Taliban stronghold in Southern Afghanistan. Within hours of being dropped deep behind enemy lines, Sergeant Nathan Harris's unit is attacked from all sides. Cut off and surrounded, the Marines fight a ghostlike enemy and experience immense hostility from displaced villagers. Frustration grows on both sides, as any common ground, or success, seems elusive.

The parallel story begins with Sergeant Harris's return home to his wife in the U.S., after he is severely wounded. He's in terrible physical pain, and becomes addicted to his pain medication. But his psychological pain may be worse, as he attempts to reconcile the immense gulf between his experiences at war, and the terrifying normalcy of life at home. These two stories intertwine to communicate both the extraordinary drama of war and the no less shocking experience of returning home, as a whole generation of Marines struggles to find an identity in a country that prefers to be indifferent.

"If a Tree Falls: A Story of Earth Liberation Front"
Daniel McGowan was a member of the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls the "number one domestic terrorism threat" in America. In 2007, McGowan went to prison for his role in two multimillion-dollar arson attacks on Oregon timber facilities. "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" looks behind the curtain at the ELF and explores two pressing issues in America today -- environmentalism and terrorism.

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