Christina Batte graduated from Murrieta Valley High School in Riverside County and looks forward to attending New York University in the fall. Her mother and older sister appear in “Plus Que Forte” (“More than strong”), along with Christina, who does the voice-over in French. She won first place in the Through the Lens of Culture category, which encourages filmmakers to explore the topics of suicide prevention and mental health through the lens of a particular culture. She made the film based on her own experiences in seeking mental health services. The film showcases that “as Black women, we are expected to stay strong, and that being vulnerable is weak.” By addressing our mental health, Christina says “we can break these expectations, and take care of ourselves and each other.”

How was the filmmaking process a positive outlet for you?

Making art is cathartic. When I make pieces that are true to my experiences, it helps me process those emotions, and clarify things. I thought this was a good process to quantify how I felt.

What do you hope someone takes away or learns after watching your film?

I hope people feel supported. Or, feel an essence of support or solidarity, and that they see other people are struggling, as well. It is also, a call to action for people to be more accepting. It’s okay to need help; mental health matters.

How would you define mental health?

It’s something everyone has, but it’s not talked about because it’s taboo. Mental health is something we’re not paying attention to as much as we should be, and it’s so relevant, especially right now.

How did the Directing Change Program change your perspective on mental health?

I attended my first Directing Change awards ceremony three years ago. They screened many films that gave me a different perspective on mental health. Instead of a burden, mental health is something that brings us all together; it’s something we all share. And definitely something that affects everyone.

How are you going to continue ‘directing change’ when you return to in-person school this fall?

I find it most powerful when I’m being authentic. Since I have experience with mental illness, I will be including that in things that I make. It’s a form of representation for people.

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