A film by John Gianvito
2007, 58 minutes
No. 323

Presented in a new 2K restoration, Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind from director John Gianvito (Her Socialist Smile, Far from Aghanistan, The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein), is an epic, visual meditation on the progressive history of the United States, from colonial times to the present, as seen through its cemeteries, historical plaques and markers.

Making its way through 400 years of American history, this thought-provoking documentary visits the resting places of such famed figures as Malcolm X, Mother Jones, Frederick Douglass, Cesar Chavez, Crazy Horse, Susan B. Anthony and Eugene V. Debs, alongside lesser known, but equally important heroes and radicals such as Frank Little, Uriah Smith Stephens and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It brings us to markers commemorating crucial strikes, protests, and massacres, including the end of King Philip’s War, the 1770 Boston Massacre, the Stone Rebellion, the Homestead Strike, the Bread and Roses Strike, and the Matewan Massacre. Gianvito punctuates these scenes with glorious landscapes of the wind blowing through trees exemplifying the spirits of the nation's earliest massacred residents. And then there’s the end, when what's been left unsaid erupts to the surface

Loosely inspired by Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind is a singular experience that prompts much discussion and exploration; a calm, beautiful and wordless testament to men and women who have shaped the world we live in today.

Winner, Best Experimental Film, National Society of Film Critics Awards
Winner, Grand Prize, Entrevues Film Festival
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, DC Environmental Film Festival
Official Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival

“America seen through the activists who built the nation is the concept behind professor-turned-helmer John Gianvito’s extraordinary Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind. At once uplifting and thought-provoking, guaranteed to send viewers Googling figures and events, this poetic documentary is inspired by, and a worthy accompaniment to, Howard Zinn's revolutionary 'A People's History of the United States.' Builds to a feeling of exhilaration. Unmissable.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

“Remarkable!” – Ronald Bergan, The Guardian

“An uncategorizable work of elegiac wonder. Yet what's best about the film - 'documentary' is too blunt a word - has far less to do with radical history than with the one-of-a-kind visual essays of Chris Marker. There's a similar sense of cool, unhurried appraisal and a viewer's growing awareness that he or she is in the presence of an unconventional intelligence eager to make us see things afresh.” – Mark Feeney, Boston Globe

“Three and a half stars. Beautifully composed… it spans some 400 years of history, subverting its genre’s obsession with topicality and reminding us that neither our nation’s injustice nor the struggle against it is remotely new.” – Rob Nelson, Boston Phoenix