Francisco Menendez '85
“By allowing me to teach my first film class as an undergraduate, the University of Puget Sound gave me an invaluable opportunity to develop my critical thinking skills, and ignited my relentless thirst for knowledge, transformation, and innovation.”
UNLV FILM Founding Artistic Director, and Professor Francisco Menendez won the CILECT Teaching Award for 2020. The CILECT Teaching Award is a prestigious, highly competitive honor for teaching excellence from a global association of top-tier film schools. In 2017, he received the Regents’ Creative Activities Award Medal from the state of Nevada. Aside from filmmaking, his areas of research are virtual reality, interactive storytelling, and emerging technologies. Francisco began making movies at the age of nine in his native country of El Salvador. In the spring of 1984, he took a break from his undergraduate career to return to El Salvador during its civil war to work as a stringer for Time Magazine, and a liaison to Jane Wallace for CBS News. In 1985, Menendez won a Dore Schary Award for his documentary Los Niños: Thinking About Others, about the challenging lives of Mexican children along the U.S. border.
Honored as Outstanding Graduate of the Year at the University of Puget Sound in 1985, Menendez received his M.F.A. in Film and Video at California Institute of the Arts in 1989. In 2001, Prof. Menendez was selected for the Showtime Latino Filmmaker Showcase with his film Medio Tiempo, which received a ten-year exclusive contract on that network. His feature-length film, Primo, allowed him to explore the new world of High Definition workflows. Academy Award honoree and legendary producer Roger Corman asked Menendez to direct Stealing Las Vegas, starring Eric Roberts, Antonio Fargas, and Michael Tylo.