Profit motive and the whispering wind, a film by John Gianvito, at Anthology Film Archives

by |
08/01/2008 9:00 AM |

Over the course of three summers, John Gianvito crisscrossed the country, filming the monuments to and overgrown gravesites of the mainstreamed and marginalized American revolution making up the roster of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. In Profit motive and the whispering wind, that footage is edited into roughly chronological order — the ghosts of Indian chiefs and union martyrs and socialist activists and crusading writers and civil rights and suffrage leaders and antiwar protestors, the forgotten alongside the textbooked — and interspersed with footage of the wind shaking trees, fields and untamed undergrowth. It’s an invocation of our radical past, a call to arms in an Emersonian spirit of possibility.

It plays at Anthology Film Archives today through next week; you should see it. Completely predictably, I wish it was longer and more boring — it’s most effective when, like James Benning’s landscape films (to which it’s very obviously indebted), it lingers on a spot, and you as a viewer can let your mind amble through whatever associations are sparked in your head by the monument and person (or natural vista) (or both) under consideration. But it’s a gorgeous, rousing movie. (For more on it, the L’s Benjamin Strong wrote about the movie prior to its screenings at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and interviewed Gianvito for

One Comment

  • I went to this last night, Saul Levine and John Gianvito were both there for q n a. Saul uploaded his film “New Left Notes” to youtube, parts 2 and 3 just last week, so you can check it out there. One thing that came up in QnA is that some graves that Gianvito wanted to use he could not get permission of families, so that was left out of the film. He also talked about Howard Zinn’s reaction and Zinn’s own film project that he is rushing to finish(and find distribution for) before the election (trailer is up on youtube now). Also, Saul talked a bit about SDS, and mentioned Harvey Pekar’s new book on the subject. what else- John Gianvito dedicated the screening to Utah Phillips, who passed away in May, some of his music is used here. Also, the music at the end is by Infernal Noise Brigade.