CHRISTINE L. MENDOZA
Born & Raised: Brooklyn
First EVC Project: Milleniphobia (Doc Workshop, Fall 1999)
Current Occupation: Executive Director, Urbanworld Film Festival
Education: BA, Media Studies, Hunter College; MA, Comparative Ethnic College, Queens University Belfast
Tough on Crime, Tough on our Kind, 2001
Christine was an enthusiastic and eager teenager growing up in New York City. Without the proper guidance she needed to thrive, she ran away from home and dropped out of high school. Ending up in a group home at the age of 16, Christine received a conditional release to live with her mother with the stipulation she attend City-As-High School. There she pursued her internship-based education, rekindled her love of learning, and found her way to EVC.
In 1999, she took an internship at EVC’s Youth Documentary Workshop (YDW) and became hooked on filmmaking. She was never late and never missed a day. She returned the next year for EVC’s then advanced program, YO-TV. By receiving high school credits through EVC, she became the first in her family to graduate from high school. Equally as important, Christine attributes to EVC developing the necessary critical thinking skills and confidence to successfully pursue post-secondary education.
In 2005, she graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Media Studies from Hunter College. In 2008, she earned her masters from the Comparative Ethnic Conflict program at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Christine’s story illuminates not only the ways in which EVC empowers young people, but also how EVC alumni leverage the leadership skills they gain from EVC to pay forward and empower other young people. Christine found through EVC not only her passion for film production but also her belief in the significance of education for young people. After graduating from EVC youth programs, Christine returned to EVC as an instructor to give back and inspire the young people coming up behind her. As an educator with EVC, Christine taught YDW, as well as international filmmaking workshops with Finnish youth; Protestant and Catholic youth in Belfast, Northern Ireland; and South African youth in Soweto. In the fall of 2010, Christine became EVC’s co-director of Youth Documentary Workshop and educational program manager.
Christine transitioned to Film at Lincoln Center in 2015, where she eventually was elevated to direction of education. She was director of development and programs with the Coalition of Immigrant Freedom from 2020-21, before taking her current position as executive director of Urbanworld Film Festival. She is also on board of directors for UNESCO’s International Center for children and Young People. And she continues to be actively involved with EVC, including an inspiring board membership from 2019-21.
Favorite EVC Project:
“Tough on Crime, Tough on Our Kind” (YO-TV 2000-01) because I was exposed to a part of American society that many people do not have the opportunity to explore and learn about. My views on the juvenile justice system changed dramatically from when I started the project to when I completed it. I began as an unsympathetic person who did not care about societal injustices, and through my research and interviews, my views changed. I became angry at what was going on and realized that incarceration is punishing young people, when the original intention was to rehabilitate them. Also, it was my favorite because of the friendships I created, which I still have today. The experience was also instrumental in shaping how I lead as an educator and, currently, as executive director of Urbanworld, whose mission is to redefine and advance the presence and impact of the multicultural community in cinema and cross-platform media."
Proudest Youth Media Moment:
“My dad passed away in 2020. And one of my most beautiful memories I have of my father was when he came to my documentary workshop screening. I was 17 and my father was sitting in the audience in the front row. He was never a part of my life and never supported me in anything I did. He always thought I was and would be a failure. BUT he sat through it and watched me present my work and he even asked a question, I had a lump in my throat and answered proudly. That was an emotional moment that I will never forget.“