J. Christian Jensen: Mormon Filmmaker
J. Christian Jensen is an Oscar-nominated independent filmmaker, educator, and storyteller. His short film White Earth, completed at Stanford University as part of his master’s thesis, received a 2015 Academy Award nomination in the Documentary Short Subject category and played at more than fifty festivals worldwide as well as universities such as Stanford, Yale, Duke, Brown, and UC Berkeley. White Earth tells of the mass migration of workers to the North Dakota oil fields. He tells the story through the eyes of three children whose family members work in the oil fields. The film was a national recipient of the Carole Fielding Student Grant and was screened at the 2014 Slamdance film festival. It won a Raven Award for Best Director at the DocUtah Film Festival in St. George. In 2015 the film also received an honorable mention at the 2015 LDS Film Festival. Jensen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a native of St. George, Utah.
Jensen has a background in journalism, which eventually led him into documentary filmmaking. With an Oscarson Discovery Grant, he worked on both fiction and nonfiction productions for such companies as National Geographic Film and Television, PBS Frontline, and American Experience. He also worked on the PBS documentary, The Mormons.
Before earning his bachelor’s degree in media arts studies from Brigham Young University, he filled production roles on a variety of short and feature-length films that included Together Again for the First Time and The Flyboys. While at BYU, he helped create The Soul of Kalaupapa, a documentary about the remote Kalaupapa leprosy colony on Molokai, Hawaii. He also worked as an editor and camera person at BYU Television International. While working for BYUtv’s Kaleidoscope Pictures, he was an editor on Messiah: Behold the Lamb of God and Storytellers.
At Stanford, he received the Carmen Christensen Fine Arts Fellowship and graduate fellowships to attend The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (2012), the Telluride Student Symposium (2013), and the annual University Film & Video Association (UFVA) Conference (2013). While in Stanford's MFA program, he produced and directed documentary and experimental short films, Out of Body (2011), Between Land and Sea (2012), ALPHA & OMEGA (2012), in addition to White Earth (2013). After Jensen received his Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University in 2013, he was a finalist for the International Documentary Association, David L. Wolper's Student Documentary Award, with his film, Between Land and Sea. He edited Last Chance U (2016), Out Run (2016), and True Conviction (2017).
He spent several years working on fiction and non-fiction productions including ones for National Geographic Film & Television, PBS FRONTLINE, and American Experience. Having lived or worked in Brazil, China, and India, Christian is also interested in films that explore areas of rapid modernization and economic expansion. He works as a filmmaker, editor, and educator teaching film. He is a former faculty member at Northwestern University’s graduate Documentary Media program. He is also a freelance editor at Navajo Mountain Film
Jensen has lectured at universities, schools, and community groups. He has also addressed audiences at TEDx.