Meet Zachary Ingle


Before he became one, Zachary Ingle didn’t even know that “film studies professor” was a real job.

Now that he is one, Ingle gets to share his love of film and the intertwining of faith and film with his students and others fortunate to hear him speak. Ingle joined the faculty of Hardin-Simmons University in fall 2022 as an adjunct professor of strategic communication and teaches a Survey of American Film course. His wife, Jemima Ingle, is assistant professor of chemistry at HSU. 

Ingle fell into his future career path while working toward a master of divinity degree at Baylor University. He started reading the film journals in the Baylor library and got interested in a career teaching film and faith.

“You see, there are a lot of theologians who can write about film,” he said, “but few, if any, film scholars who have the requisite background to discuss theology or scripture. I wanted to change that.”

In the Q&A below, Ingle tells more about his background, which includes seeing more than 11,00 movies, some favorite Christmas films and a few upcoming films that he previewed at the Austin Film Festival.

Name: Zachary Ingle
Position at HSU: Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communication 
Courses taught at HSU: Survey of American Film 
When started at HSU: Fall 2022
Education: Loop (TX) High School, 1997; BA, Howard Payne University, 2001; MDiv, Baylor University, 2003; MA, North Carolina A&T State University, 2008; PhD, University of Kansas, 2015
Family: Wife Jemima Ingle, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Hardin-Simmons University
Prior teaching experience: Visiting Assistant Professor of Film at Hollins University (three years) Prior to that, an adjunct professor at the University of Kansas, University of Saint Mary, and Roanoke College.

Zachary Ingle

Q&A with Zachary Ingle

Q How old were you when you first fell in love with film? Was there a particular movie that you loved?

A Of course there were some films I loved as kid (e.g., the Rocky films, The Natural, and especially the original Star Wars trilogy), but I didn’t really think of film as an art form worthy of my attention. I did fall in love with literature though when I was around 16 and read voraciously. This led to me being an English major in college, and one my professors wrote a book on film while I was at Howard Payne. This book opened my eyes to foreign films, classics films, indie films…all types of films which I had little interest in before. So it was about the time I turned twenty that I fell in love with the medium. There is just something about film (it was the most influential art form of the twentieth century after all) and the way it works as an avenue for empathy in the way we are immersed in a story.

Q At what point in your life did you realize a connection between film and faith? Did any particular film prompt that?

A I think it’s just natural for me to see things through a faith lens. It shapes my outlook in all walks of life. I don’t turn off my brain when I read a book or watch a basketball game—why would I do so when I watch a movie? 

Q Did you plan a career in film when you went to college or did that interest develop in school?

A Even though I fell in love with the art of film while in college, I had no idea that it would be a career. I knew that I loved the university environment, so I thought teaching at the university level was probably a good fit for me. When I graduated I didn’t even know that “film studies professor” was a even a thing, so I had plans to teach New Testament and church history when I went to seminary. After seminary, I started reading the film journals in the Baylor library, and I felt like it was something I could do. You see, there are a lot of theologians who can write about film, but few, if any, film scholars who have the requisite background to discuss theology or scripture. I wanted to change that. 

Q Do you have an estimate of the number of films you’ve seen in your lifetime?

A Yes, over 11,000. I seem to get something out of everything I watch (no matter how lackluster the film is) and so rarely (if ever) have regretted watching something. 

Q What are a few of your favorite films that have a spiritual angle but aren’t overtly religious? 

A I’ll admit I’m naturally drawn to films with religious themes/characters, but some films speak to me despite the absence of anything remotely religious. I delight in films that get me thinking about theological issues: both The Truman Show and the German film Run Lola Run for free will vs. determinism; Groundhog Day, a meditation on kairos vs. kronos time; and About a Boy for its central message that we all need community. 

Q With holidays coming up, everyone has certain favorites. How about some of your favorite holiday films that you would recommend?

A Most of my favorite holiday films are the ones on most lists: It’s a Wonderful Life (which makes me cry every time), The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf. It seems like we don’t get as many good holiday films in theaters anymore since Hallmark cranks out dozens a year for television, but one of the better new ones I’ve seen is Anna and the Apocalypse (2017). It’s combination musical/holiday/zombie film from the UK, so not for all tastes, but it’s rather charming. Another recent discovery of mine is We’re No Angels (1955), starring Humphrey Bogart. Michael Curtiz directed it the year after White Christmas, and while it’s not as good as that beloved classic, I do hope to add it to the holiday rotation and get my family to watch it this season. 

Q Any upcoming films that you recommend in how they handle faith issues? A Yes! I was at the Austin Film Festival two weeks ago and saw some of the films that will be major Oscar contenders. The first I saw was The Whale, based on a play about a 600-pound online English instructor who is a recluse who can’t leave his home. One of the other main characters is a door-to-door evangelist, so there is quite a bit of conversation about whether proselytization is necessary. It’s quite an emotional film, one which I think I heard over a thousand people in Paramount Theatre in Austin crying by its conclusion. But the film I enjoyed a great deal more was Women Talking, based on Miriam Toews’s acclaimed novel, itself based on an actual incident in Bolivia when dozens of women in a Mennonite community were being drugged and raped. The film consists of conversations as the women debate what they should do: forgive their attackers, stay and fight (and what would that even look like for pacifistic Mennonites?), or flee. The film is one of the most striking of the year with fantastic performances, and I of course enjoyed that their conversations are centered around scripture and theological/ethical discussions (with some fun hymns thrown in for good measure). Both will be released in theaters soon. 

One comment

  • Hey, Zach! Glad to catch up a bit. I don’t think I knew about such studies, either! It was time for me to go, wasn’t it? Love and best to you and Jemima.


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