Christina Antonakos-Wallace

Bringing social justice into focus

From a very early age, Christina Antonakos-Wallace has remained defiant in the face of social injustice, refusing to accept inequality as the prevailing standard. Once she combined her commitment to advancing social justice with her talent as a documentary filmmaker, she became unstoppable. 

Christina is the director and producer of with WINGS and ROOTS, a multi-platform documentary and educational project that won the Euro Media Award for Culture & Diversity. Set in New York and Berlin, the project tells the stories of individuals from diverse backgrounds, all of whose parents are immigrants, and who are each challenging the narrow definitions of belonging in the United States and Europe. “In an era of mounting anti-immigrant sentiment internationally, the project aims to reframe migration/integration debates, increase the representation of young people and call for more inclusive identities and policies that reflect our global reality,” says Christina.

Christina won the Change Maker Award at the Media That Matters Film Festival for “Article of Faith,” one of several short films she has released as part of with WINGS and ROOTS. In addition to short films, with WINGS and ROOTS involves an interactive website with an extensive collection of interviews and an immigration policy timeline as well as the production of a feature-length film. “As a documentary filmmaker, I strive to link my creative practice to having a meaningful impact,” says Christina. The impact of her work has indeed been powerful - with WINGS and ROOTS facilitates workshops on race, migration and representation for youth and adults, as well as anti-bullying workshops for students. So far, Christina and her team have given presentations at over 60 institutions in the United States and Germany. In addition to her own projects and freelance jobs, she works as a media educator at Global Action Project (GAP), where she facilitates two media programs for immigrant youth. Christina uses the film production process to integrate media analysis, media production, political education and youth empowerment. 

While studying documentary filmmaking, Christina realized that the medium would allow her to engage with a broader audience and deal more directly and intimately with important social issues. She began with WINGS and ROOTS as her thesis at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. However, it was not until her Humanity in Action Fellowship in New York in 2006 and her experiences with Humanity in Action in Berlin that Christina realized the possibility for her thesis to become a powerful, comparative project. Christina had previously worked on asylum cases for a small grassroots immigration rights organization in the United States, but her experiences interning at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Berlin exposed her to a new level of intricacy. “Both my artistic practice and intellectual inquiry propelled me towards creating work that opened up more room to explore tensions, imagination, nuance and contradictions,” she says. “I try to incorporate as much of that complexity into my work as I can.”

Photo by Sophia Wallace.

 
Previous Fellow Next Fellow 583
"As a documentary filmmaker, I strive to link my creative practice to having a meaningful impact."