Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
Director: John Gianvito Run Time: 58 min. Format: Digital Projection Release Year: 2008
New England Legacy: John Gianvito
Last year was the 40th anniversary of the first publication of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which chronicles the people, events, and collective movements that contest officialized tellings of American progress in favor of economic, racial, gender, land, healthcare, and labor rights. Based upon the research of Zinn’s landmark book, Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind clocks in just under an hour but chronologically traces centuries of this same history through the monuments and sites whose existence, strung together in essayistic form, mark the physical presence of human activities long after it may be convenient to forget them. Beyond its structural landscape film trappings, for which the whispering wind of the film’s title reminds us of our shared commons, the film also incorporates animated vignettes and a statement of solidarity as our modern, urban environment encroaches upon a rural idyll. As a history lesson, the film remains profound. As activist artifact, it’s galvanizing as our nation publicly reckoning with the import of monuments and museums. As filmic object, it’s the encapsulation of a curious, rigorous self-reflection, reminding us that we have agency in the processes that make history—as well as a liberatory future.
The September 27 presentation is the first theatrical screening of a recent restoration by Watchmaker Films and is a double feature with Her Socialist Smile, Gianvito’s latest, followed by an in-depth conversation between John Gianvito and DocYard Curator Abby Sun on both films individually and Gianvito’s broader cinema of resistance.
“Gianvito’s masterpiece unites a disparate and largely forgotten series of figures and events not necessarily to resurrect awareness of them so much as to use cinema to create a horrifying, as well as proud, thread of history of loud voices through silent markers.” — Danny Kasman, MUBI Notebook
About the Filmmaker
John Gianvito is a director, teacher, and curator, based in Boston. His films have screened widely and have included the Toronto International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Mar Del Plata , London Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, Cinematheque Francaise, the Tate Modern, and Pacific Film Archives. Retrospectives of his work have been presented at the VIENNALE Film Festival, the I Mille Occhi Festival, Cinéma du Réel, and Seoul Independent Documentary Festival. Gianvito is the editor of the book Andrei Tarkovsky: Interviews (University of Mississippi Press) and served for five years in the 1990s as the film curator of the Harvard Film Archive. He is currently a Professor in the Visual and Media Arts Department at Emerson College.