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Christian Union
March 9, 2018

Film Director Exhorts Harvard Students

By Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer 

Christians in the film industry should strive to become creative forces in the arena of cinematic storytelling. 

That was one of the themes from Timothy Reckart when the award-winning director spoke to students at Christian Union’s weekly Leadership Lecture Series at Harvard College. In November, Reckart, Harvard ’09, discussed his passion for animated artistry, and explored the intersection of his visually stunning screen endeavors with his faith. Reckart’s return to his alma mater was especially timely as it occurred two weeks before the release of his first studio movie, The Star: The Story of the First Christmas.

WinterHarvardThrough the film, Reckart aspires to connect with both Christian and general audiences, as well as offer a movie that families can enjoy as a part of their yuletide traditions.

“Jesus was a carpenter for most of his life. He didn’t make faith-based chairs,” Reckart said. “My job as a filmmaker is just to make good movies.”

Such a message resonated with Harvard students. 

“Reckart views animation as a vehicle to paint a beautiful picture that invites others to share this story to such a degree that they possess it as their own,” said Jon Yeager, a Christian Union ministry fellow. 

As well, Reckart offered “excellent insight into standing for Christ in places where we often think Christians are not as present,” said Tyler Parker (Harvard ’17), a Christian Union intern. Click to Tweet

As for The Star, the heartwarming movie tells the wondrous story of the Nativity from the perspective of the animals assembled in the stable. Giving voice to the barn animals allows the holiday story to be relived in a creative version that appeals to both children and adults. “We can have comedy, adventure, and action without turning Mary and Joseph into action heroes,” Reckart told Harvard students. 

The Star’s cast features a plethora of celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, and Tyler Perry. Behind the scenes, the release from Sony Pictures Animation reflected the handiwork of Franklin Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company executives.

Reckart hopes young believers will likewise excel as they pursue careers in their respective fields. “Everything we do here ripples into eternity,” Reckart said. “Do the work well with a lot of love.”

Reckart’s initial studio film comes four years after his Oscar nomination for Head Over Heels, an animation about marriage. His interest in filmmaking dates to his childhood. Growing up in Arizona as the second oldest of six children, Reckart recalled making homemade movies with his siblings and cousins. 

Later, the Tucson native studied history and literature at Harvard. Then, under the guidance of a Harvard mentor, Reckart completed an animation direction program at the United Kingdom’s National Film and Television School.

As part of his studies, Reckart used clay figures to tell the story of a husband and wife who have become distant. In addition to receiving an Oscar nomination, Head Over Heels won other recognitions, including the Best Animated Short in the Austin Film Festival and the Heartland Film Festival’s Vision Award.

In 2015, Variety magazine named Reckart as one of 10 animators to watch.

Today, the Los Angeles resident hopes The Star will help inspire similar productions.

“If it’s a success, we’ll get to make more good, Christian movies,” Reckart told Harvard undergraduates. 

“Christianity is the fullness of what it means to be human. Christian movies should be deeply human and about the human experiences, not just about trying to ‘change culture.’” Click to Tweet