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Filmmakers Lubezki and Iñárritu Once Again Bring Mexican Flavor to the Academy Awards

The Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, winner of Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Revenant’. Photo from the Flickr account of Tarlen Handayani. Used under Creative Commons licence 2.0.

The Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, winner of Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Revenant’. Photo from the Flickr account of Tarlen Handayani. Used under Creative Commons licence 2.0

For the third consecutive year, the Dolby Theatre in California felt like it was tinged with green, white, and red — the colors of the Mexican flag — during the Oscar ceremony presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, thanks to major wins by Emmanuel Lubezki and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

This prestigious recognition given to Mexicans by one of the most influential and economically powerful industries in the United States has come right when several US presidential hopefuls have proposed increasingly severe immigration policies. Furthermore, Republican candidate Donald Trump has continuously spoken maliciously against the Mexican people.

Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki was awarded in the category of Best Cinematography for his work in film “The Revenant”, which was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Lubezki thus became the first cinematographer in history to win the coveted statuette three years in a row; however, that does not make him the most awarded, since both Leon Shamroy and Joseph Ruttenberg each won in the same category on four occasions, although not consecutively. In the last two years, Lubezki won the award for his work on “Gravity” and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”. He has received a total of eight Academy Awards nominations throughout his career.

Prior to arriving in Hollywood, Lubezki had studied history, but later enrolled at the Center for Cinematographic Studies of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Luis Estrada (“La Dictadura Perfecta” (The Perfect Dictatorship) and Alfonso Cuarón (“Great Expectations”), both award-winning Mexican directors, studied there as well.  

On social media, users expressed their excitement at the news. @bettanzoss even opined that Lubezki should replace the image of Miguel Hidalgo, a leader of Mexico's independence, on banknotes.

Get rid of Miguel Hidalgo on the $1,000 bills and put Emmanuel Lubezki.

Meanwhile, Héctor Alvarez wrote:

Iñárritu and Lubezki are great examples to follow. Proving that the Mexican people have a lot of talent.

Sergio B. took the opportunity to remember another Mexican cinematographer, absent on this occasion:

Watching Lubezki conference right now, I remembered Rodrigo Prieto and his equally spectacular work on Brokeback Mountain.
Just saying.

It was not all good news for the Mexicans nominated, since Martín Hernández once again left without an award for Best Sound Editing, this time for his work on “The Revenant”, which received 12 nominations in total. Hernández went home empty-handed last year when he had been nominated in the same category for his work in “Birdman”. In addition to film, Hernández has worked as a journalist and was one of the original commentators on the morning radio show “Así Las Cosas, which broadcasts in Mexico City.

Alejandro González Iñárritu received the award for Best Director for his work on “The Revenant”, leaving Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”) and Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) without an Oscar. Last year, González Iñárritu was awarded in the same category for “Birdman”. Even before that, he was no stranger to Hollywood — his previous films, such as “Babel”, were also nominated for an Academy Award. Before being recognized by the mainstream film industry, González Iñárritu worked as a director of music videos as well as commercials for brands such as Nike.

Mauricio Tolosa remembers the film that put González Iñárritu on the road to stardom:

Alejandro González Iñárritu has created such amazing work since setting off the millennium with “Amores Perros” (Love's a Bitch). #Oscars

The Twitter account of Spanish newspaper 20minutos (20 minutes) shared the news of González Iñárritu’s triumph:

González Iñárritu has won his second consecutive Oscar for Best Director.

In his acceptance speech, González Iñárritu was not as political as last year, but gave a nod to the controversy over the lack of diversity in the nominees, saying:

…what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking, and make sure for once and forever that the color of the skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.

For his achievements, and those of other Mexican filmmakers, political scientist Alberto Díaz-Cayeros concluded:

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