This month Twin Cities PBS and documentary filmmaker Richard Wormser announced the forthcoming release of American Reds, a documentary illuminating the history and legacy of the American Communist Party. The program’s narrative is structured around interviews of prominent American Communists. American Reds is scheduled for public television broadcast and online viewing beginning in October 2016.
Wormser, a 2010 Soviet Archives Summer Workshop participant, and fellow producer Bill Jersey conducted extensive research at the Hoover Archives. Interviews with former members of the Party and their supporters used in the program now reside in the Richard Wormser collection at Hoover Archives. These interviews were conducted in 1981 with men and women who had been Communist Party members or supporters, such as as Henry Winston, Sam Darcy, Gus Hall, Anne Burlak, Edna Ocko, Steve Nelson and Robert Schrank. Within the interviews, the party members discuss how their Marxist beliefs informed their social activism as well as explaining the history and legacy of Communism, Stalinism, and McCarthyism in twentieth-century American society. American Reds provides a little-told perspective on the past while raising key issues about social change, idealism, ideology, and the nature of our economic and political system that remain vital today.
Journalist and former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers calls American Reds “a valuable primer into the tragic turn of events that betrayed the hopes and aspirations of everyday working people during the great confrontation between capitalism and communism in the early twentieth century. It’s an important addition to public television's mission to throw light on obscured corners of our history and on the forgotten people lost in the shadows."
Bill Jersey and Richard Wormser are the producers of American Reds, which Wormser originated, wrote, and directed. Wormser has also written, produced, and/or directed over 50 programs for television and educational institutions that have received numerous awards and 18 grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wormser and Jersey discussed their documentary film careers in a recent PBS interview that can be viewed here.