Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind

In recent weeks I’ve found myself thinking frequently about Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, an experimental 2008 documentary by filmmaker John Gianvito. I saw it that summer at Anthology Film Archives, and was happy to learn that this hour-long plaintive meditation on radical American history—and how it has been encoded in the country’s landscape—is available as a free online stream at SnagFilms. As A.O. Scott noted in the New York Times, “The calling of birds and the rustle of trees provide most of the commentary, and the effect is somehow to make history more mysteriously distant and more concrete—a matter of stone and weathered plaques inscribed with the records of half-forgotten deeds.” Here is a longer meditation on two of Gianvito’s films by Jonathan Rosenbaum, who compares the film to those by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Rosenbaum says, “Gianvito’s various ways of approaching the graves, memorials, and shrines through the surrounding landscapes that nestle and sometimes hide these largely unremarked sites is every bit as important as their inscriptions.” I highly recommend the film.