The new chair of the University of New Haven’s Department of Communication, Film and Media Studies returns to his alma mater to expand opportunities for students and change their lives much like the program changed his a generation ago.
September 29, 2016
Richard Wormser, a University of New Haven adjunct professor of criminal justice, is the director of American Reds, a documentary film about the history of the Communist Party in the United States that is airing across the country this fall on nearly 170 PBS stations.
A Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Wormser says American Reds is the first documentary to comprehensively examine both the history and the contemporary relevance of the Communist Party in the United States. He wrote the film and co-produced it with Bill Jersey, who is considered one of the founders of the modern documentary.
“I was interested in the story of the party as a story of vision and blindness,” Wormser said in a recent feature story for the alumni magazine published by Bucknell University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1955.
“The people had a vision of creating — eventually — a completely alternate system to capitalism based upon socialism, where there would be equality, no discrimination,” Wormser continued.
“That was the vision. The blindness was the tyranny of Stalin. After the revelations [of Stalin’s brutality] emerged in the 1950s, about 70 percent of the members just left in disgust.”
American Reds was funded with a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.