At a time when so many feel called to resist the White House’s attacks on numerous fronts, we at the HFA feel compelled to do our part. Cinema has always been a method of examining the world the way it is, in order to understand it, to begin to change it, to imagine it otherwise. So we begin a monthly series of films animated with the spirit of protest, of pointing out oppression and working towards justice. These screenings will be designed to spark discussion, beginning in our theater directly after the screening. Whenever possible, we will have the filmmaker present; at other times, we may have a guest moderator—an activist, a historian or a community organizer. – David Pendleton
Directed by John Gianvito
US 2008, digital video, color, 58 min
This deceptively quiet documentary is a history of 20th century activism via a look at what remains of the activists and some of their famous events. Inspired by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States,John Gianvito undertook a pilgrimage to the memorials and tombstones of inspiring activists and to the commemorative statuary marking the location of important labor strikes and other uprisings. Some of these names and events are still remembered; many are all but forgotten. Yet Gianvito’s camera and microphone capture the evidence of what once existed and what lives on. This look at the past reminds us that struggles for justice are long and often entail defeat; the success is in persisting. "As far as one’s thoughts about our present predicaments or about the future, I have no difficulty understanding from whence the pessimism and cynicism springs. However, what’s critical for me is that regardless of one’s thoughts, one’s actions must be those of an optimist. Otherwise one is only further assuring that the status quo remains unchanged." – John Gianvito.