Save the Music, Save the Forest Save a Documentary!

by Melissa Thompson

June 21, 2011

Recently, I got the chance to see a sneak preview of a gorgeous, provocative new documentary: Musicwood.  You can watch the trailer here:

The film (a three year labor of love for filmmakers Maxine Trump and Josh Granger) pays tribute to the incredible beauty of the acoustic guitar – and takes an unflinching look at the complex politics behind the logging of the Tongass National Forest.

To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting to like the film. Sure, I like music, but am not a guitar geek, and assumed it would be a movie about a bunch of guys. I was so wrong. It’s a film about saving a forest. It’s a film about saving a Native American community’s way of life.  And yes it’s a film about saving the acoustic guitar (which will be no more in less than 10 years if we don’t do something).

It’s also a film about Greenpeace.

“In 2008, we heard a pretty amazing story,” say the filmmakers. “That the over-logging of a forest in Alaska was affecting the wood sources for the acoustic guitar. That if things didn’t change quickly, in less than ten years this forest will run out of the rare 250 year-old Sitka Spruce that acoustic guitars need for their soundboards. And that a coalition of the world’s top guitar-makers (Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Fender) had banded together and were going to Alaska to try and convince an industrial logging company to log sustainably.”  This coalition had been organized by none other than Greenpeace forest campaigner Scott Paul, who is one of the most compelling characters in the film. “I will never sleep,” says Paul at the beginning of the film, “until I’ve exercised every possible way to protect this forest.”

In addition to amazing footage of the Tongass, interviews with guitar makers, environmental groups, and leaders of the Tlingit and Haida tribes, the film includes great musical performances from Yo La Tengo, Turin Brakes and Sergius Gregory (other musicians, including the Swell Season, will also be appearing in the finished version).

Like the acoustic guitar, the film is also endangered – up until now, it has been entirely funded by the filmmakers and by support from individual donors. It’s nearly done. But Musicwood needs a little bit more love in order to make it to the big screen. You can make it happen by joining the kickstarter campaign:

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