The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts is celebrating the work of Visual and Media Arts Professor John Gianvito, “one of the great local documentary filmmakers” according to the Boston Globe, with a retrospective of his work, September 27-October 3.
The DocYard retrospective will screen two of Gianvito’s films. Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (2007), a look at the historic monuments, plaques, and markers memorializing the progressive history of the U.S. (inspired by Howard Zinn’s 1980 book A People’s History of the United States) will be screened Monday, September 27, 5:30 pm. His latest, Her Socialist Smile (2020), about Helen Keller’s advocacy for progressive causes will be screened September 27, 7:00 pm.
Two more of Gianvito’s documentaries, Vapor Trail (Clark) (2010) and Wake: Subic (2015), both of which examine environmental contamination around U.S. military bases in the Philippines, will be available for streaming through October 3, as will Far from Afghanistan (2012), to which Gianvito contributed a segment.
Comparing him to renowned filmmakers Frederick Wiseman and Errol Morris, the Globe, in a preview of the retrospective, writes “John Gianvito seeks out the hidden in America, the overlooked or covered-up ruins, relics, monuments, and writings that reveal the truth about who we are. He applies a style and method that are meditative, trenchant, and inventive and that provoke reflection and indignation. “
In an interview with Emerson Today ahead of Her Socialist Smile‘s world premiere at the New York Film Festival last year, Gianvito said the only reason he continues to make films is to remind himself and others that there are more important things than films.
“Making films, writing about films, even having time to simply watch a film is a privilege, unavailable to a great number of people on this planet whose daily imperatives are a lot more immediate. And with that privilege to me comes responsibility,” Gianvito said.
“The range and magnitude of urgent crises unfolding all around us is virtually impossible to even grasp. My interest in history parallels the creed of Howard Zinn, that the study of history is never a neutral act, that history itself is written on a ‘moving train,’ and its ultimate value is its ability to help us with the here and now, to provide us with tools that facilitate the work necessary in the continuing struggle to build the more just and egalitarian world for which so many of us aspire.”
Visit thedocyard.com for more information on the retrospective.