Campus & Community

Filmmaker Richard Rogers dies at 57

2 min read

By Ken Gewertz

Richard P. Rogers, director of the Film Study Center and senior lecturer in Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), died Saturday, July 14, in his home in Wainscott, N.Y. The cause of death was metastasized melanoma. Rogers was 57.

Rogers made many documentary and experimental films in addition to teaching filmmaking and video. His early films include “Quarry,” about a swimming hole in Quincy, and “Elephants,” an investigation of his family’s origins.

He made several films for PBS, including biographical films about poets Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, and the novelist William Kennedy.

Rogers’ films “Moving Pictures,” about Polish animator Jan Lenica, “Cadmium Yellow,” about the lives of artists in New York City, and “Siena, Chronicles of a Medieval Commune” concern art-making and architecture.

“A Midwife’s Tale,” based on the book by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, was shown as part of The American Experience series on PBS.

A film about Nicaragua, “Pictures from a Revolution,” was made in collaboration with his wife, photographer Susan Meiselas, and Alfred Guzzetti, the Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Arts, and premiered at the New York Film Festival. Rogers’ independently produced documentaries also include “The Cost of Living” and “Living at Risk.”

“He was a person who contributed an immensity of goodwill and creative energy to the community of people interested in making and teaching film,” said senior lecturer Robert Gardner, founder and former director of the Film Study Center. Gardner knew Rogers during the latter’s undergraduate days at Harvard, and later as a colleague and collaborator.

Rogers was born in New York City. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1967 and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education in 1970. He also studied at the Royal College of Art in London and the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham, England. He was Phi Beta Kappa, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Guggenheim Fellow. Before coming to Harvard, he was professor of theater arts and film, and chairman of the film department at the State University of New York, Purchase.