Steven Spielberg, one of the most illustrious filmmakers in the history of American motion pictures, will be the featured speaker at the Afternoon Program of Harvard’s 365th Commencement on May 26.
“Steven Spielberg is a genre-defying filmmaker whose unparalleled creativity has fueled countless imaginations,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “An extraordinary storyteller, he has given voice to the silenced and brought history to life. The wonder of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘E.T.,’ the suspense of ‘Jaws’ and ‘Jurassic Park,’ the thrill of ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Minority Report,’ the power of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Schindler’s List,’ the inspiration of ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Amistad’: these unforgettable experiences connect us to one another, entertaining and inspiring us as they underscore what it is to be human. Through his art, Mr. Spielberg has challenged us to dream and to see the world anew, and I am very much looking forward to welcoming him back to Harvard and to honoring him during our 365th Commencement exercises.”
Spielberg has twice won best-director Academy Awards, for “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List,” which also won best picture. He has received several career honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Kennedy Center Honor, and most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
He also has devoted time and energy to philanthropy, establishing the Righteous Persons Foundation with his profits from “Schindler’s List,” and founding the Shoah Visual History Foundation, now the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, which has recorded more than 53,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses.
“Through both his art and his activism, Steven Spielberg has shared with millions his deeply humanistic view of the world,” said Paul L. Choi, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “Harvard alumni, students, and faculty will be excited at this opportunity to hear from the person behind the works that have entertained and inspired them for decades.”