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 docu is inspired by, and a worthy accompaniment to, Howard Zinn’s revolutionary “A People’s History of the United States.” Composed almost entirely of simple shots of gravestones juxtaposed with wind-rustled fields and forests, pic seems challenging but builds to a feeling of exhilaration, making it an unmissable fest item.
Rather than presenting a nation neglecting her leftist heroes, using only untended markers disintegrating with time, Gianvito offers a richer, less doctrinaire sense of history. While cars unheedingly whiz by plaques commemorating major labor riots or Thomas Paine’s grave, other figures like Red Jacket, Frederick Douglass and Eugene V. Debs receive a prominence they all deserve. Reading the inscriptions, intercut with shots of the wind rushing through trees, it’s hard not to feel a reasoned, celebratory pride. Quick animated interludes of the frantic gestures of commodities traders form a contrast without affecting overall tone; digital lensing and sound are largely pro.