Price: $350.00

    Code: 2294

    Directed by John Gianvito
    2007, 58 minutes
    Purchase: $350 Classroom Rental: $125

    A critically acclaimed documentary, Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind 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, Susan B. Anthony and Crazy Horse, alongside lesser known but equally important heroes and radicals, including Frank Little, Uriah Smith Stephens and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

    Sites of pivotal struggles are also visited, such as King Philip's War, the 1770 Boston Massacre, the Stono Rebellion and the Homestead Strike. 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 calm, beautiful and wordless testament to the men and women who shaped the world we live in today; a singular, never-dull experience that prompts much discussion and exploration.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Best Experimental Film, National Society of Film Critics Awards, 2008
    * Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Tribeca International Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Viennale International Film Festival, 2007
    * Special Founders Prize for Shorter than Feature Length Film, Traverse City Festival, 2008
    * Special Mention, Documentary Category, Mexico City Int. Contemporary Film Fest, 2008
    * Grand Prize for Documentary Feature, Entrevues Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival, 2007
    * Human Rights Award, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, 2008
    * Special Mention, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, 2008
    * Third Prize for Documentary Feature, Athens Int'l Film and Video Festival, 2008


    [Three-and-a-half stars] “Brilliantly imaginative. A powerful experimental film. Highly recommended.” - Video Librarian

    "America seen through the activists who built the nation is the concept behind professor-turned-director 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.’ Pic seems challenging but builds to a feeling of exhilaration…. Unmissable.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

    “[A] quiet stunner…. Gianvito isn’t interested in just any old tombstones, but those of America’s most distinguished labor leaders—folks like Eugene Debs and César Chávez. Crosscut with swaying trees and weeds (and no narration), the film hints at something fundamentally American.” – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

    “An excellent starting point for a discussion of both U.S. history and documentary filmmaking from a different point of view.” - Educational Media Reviews Online

    “I highly recommend John Gianvito’s provocative and quietly mesmerizing Profit motive and the whispering Wind. For all its beautiful austerity, Gianvito’s vital memorial of memorials could and should be dissected at length shot by shot. Must-see viewing." – Premiere Magazine

    “Gianvito has created a thought-provoking and genuinely progressive work that builds on Zinn’s and the sacrifices he steadfastly salutes.” - Box Office Magazine

    “A moving and intriguing reverie.” - A.O. Scott, The New York Times

    "Remarkable. A bracingly unique experience. At a time when most attempts at political cinema result in the equivalent of hastily xeroxed leaflets, Gianvito has produced a document, one we will no doubt be examining for years to come." - Michael Sicinski, Cinema Scope

    “A lovely and inspirational meditation on the history of popular political activism in the U.S.” - Film Comment

    “Part elegy, part pep rally, and something stranger: a frighteningly beautiful form of spirit photography, determined to convert a radical past into a new burst of human energy.” - Michelle Robinson, Cineaste

    "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

    “Inspired by lefty Howard Zinn, John Gianvito’s haunting experimental documentary takes us on a silent, meditative journey through the forgotten gravestones, memorial plaques, and other landmarks of America’s underground history. We’re not talking the Jefferson Memorial here. Gianvito foregrounds abolitionists, organizers, poets, and victims—from Sojourner Truth to Sacco and Vanzetti to Cesar Chavez.” - Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine

    “Hypnotic, transcendent and highly mysterious. It's as if Gianvito, a longtime film curator at Harvard and now a professor at Emerson College, has distilled an atheist vision of spirituality, or made the most clear and accessible avant-garde film in cinematic history.” - Andrew O'Hehir,

    "Three and a half stars. Beautifully composed... 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

    "Remarkable!" – Ronald Bergan, The Guardian

    “An intriguing glimpse at a vast array of American heroes—people who fought for human rights and equality for all. Howard Zinn’s ‘A People's History of the United States’ would be an excellent introduction to this film.” - School Library Journal

    Further Reading

    Read an interview with director John Gianvito from Cinema Scope magazine (PDF)