As noted last week, plenty of the films — documentaries and features alike — screening at this year's Nashville Film Festival are music-related in one way or another. One doc we haven't yet mentioned, however, is Musicwood, which screens tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m., with a Q&A featuring the director and the producer to follow. Tickets are available here.
Now, when most newspaper-reading types hear the words "Gibson Guitars" and "wood" in tandem, they most likely think of the two occasions when the Nashville-based company was raided by agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — the raids took place because Gibson violated the Lacey Act by illegally importing exotic wood, with the instrument makers ultimately losing roughly $600,000 in penalties and forfeited assets. But that actually isn't what Musicwood is about at all, it would seem. Rather, it's about the point of intersection between representatives from three guitar companies (Gibson, Martin and Taylor), a Native-American logging company, Greenpeace, and some musicians: that point of intersection being Southeast Alaska. Here's a synopsis:
Musicwood is an adventure-filled journey to remote, beautiful and foreboding Southeast Alaska. Delving into the cultural and economic history of the area, Musicwood begins with a startling revelation: Native Americans are devastating their own homeland, logging enormous tracts of land with no concern for the impact.
Into this scenario comes an unusual group of guitar-makers — CEO's of the most famous guitar companies on the planet — on a mission: to negotiate with the Native Americans and change the way this forest is logged before it's too late for acoustic guitars. But these Native loggers are determined not to change.
If they don't, and the logging continues unabated, the forest will run out of acoustic-guitar quality Spruce in about five years. The guitar as we know it will be no more.
Enter Greenpeace, with an agenda that pours gasoline on this already blazing fire. They are out to save this forest at all costs, but are they willing to make deals with their nemeses to get what they want?
Musicwood is a culture clash of staggering proportions. Native American loggers, white CEO's, and a radical environmental group, all battling over a forest that is the last of its kind on the planet. Musicwood upends our simplistic view of indigenous peoples and the past, with a story where it's often impossible to tell the good guys from the bad.
The film, we're told, also features performances by and interviews with Steve Earle, Yo La Tengo, Lambchop's Kurt Wagner and more. See the trailer above, and learn more by kicking around at Musicwood's website.