Richard P. Rogers (1944 - 2001) maintained two full-time careers: he was a celebrated director and producer of nonfiction films as well as an inspired teacher of still photography and filmmaking at Harvard. Rogers’ appetite for knowledge was omnivorous, taking him from the jungles of Nicaragua to the fountains of Rome, from the bedrooms of colonial New England homes to the streets of working-class Albany, and throughout these travels his unsparing artist’s eye often turned back onto himself. With topics that ranged across art and architecture, history and literature, his films spoke in many voices—politically engaged, personal, experimental. Though perhaps best known for the long form independent documentaries Living at Risk and Pictures from a Revolution (both collaborations with Susan Meiselas and Alfred Guzzetti) at Harvard he was also a mentor to new generations of committed filmmakers, and under his directorship the Film Study Center became an important catalyst for nonfiction production. Rogers’ films share an experimental bent, a search for the adequate form to create revealing portraits whether of artists like William Carlos Williams, historic figures such as the midwife and healer Martha Ballard, or communities like the Quincy, Massachusetts captured in Rogers’ celebrated short film, Quarry.
The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to collaborate with Susan Meiselas on this retrospective while she is a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study working on a research and book project about the photographs of Richard P. Rogers. Susan Meiselas will be joined in conversation with filmmaker and former student of Rogers, Alexander Olch about The Windmill Movie, Olch's touching and insightful portrait of Rogers and his unfinished eponymous film.