Musicwood is a documentary directed by Maxine Trump about a group of the world’s most famous acoustic guitar-makers brought together by Greenpeace to travel to the largest national forest in the U.S. and negotiate with a Native American logging company to save the trees from clear-cutting–and save the acoustic guitar. Controversy erupts over this region located in southeast Alaska, and as different factions struggle to make their voice heard, the best hope to bring them together may be the music itself.

This film probes controversial territory, as environmentalists clash with the Native American landowners, who aren’t particularly keen on being told by outsiders how to manage their own property, after only just getting it back from the U.S. Government in the 70s. This alone lifts the story out of a simple mother earth vs. human greed narrative; however, while this is the central conflict of Musicwood, the film always brings the focus back to the music, including interviews not just with the guitar-makers, but notable and insanely talented acoustic guitarists like Yo La Tengo, Steve Earle, and Kaki King. This is more than a black and white issue, and director Trump does an excellent job making sure all sides are heard, without losing the clarity and urgency of its message: no more trees, no more guitar.

Is Musicwood essential Reel Indie viewing?

Absolutely. Musicwood brings a fresh perspective to an old story, and anybody especially interested in acoustic music should check this one out.

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