After high school, Méndez joined a film workshop in Lima where he realised that he could “use film-making to say something about life”. At Yale University (1994 to1998), he gained a B.A. in film and Latin American studies, and took courses in film-making and editing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Returning to Peru, he formed his own production company, Chullachaki Producciones, in 1998, and began working as a freelance assistant director, film editor and screenwriter. His first feature film, Días de Santiago (2004), about a young war veteran’s difficult return to civilian life, has been shown at 90 film festivals and has won more than 30 international prizes, making it Peru’s most awarded film. He developed the script of his second feature, Dioses, while participating in a Cannes Film Festival-sponsored programme in late 2004. The story explores the lifestyle of the young, idle members Peru’s upper classes.