Alejandro G. Iñárritu is known for his exploration of the human condition, coupled with his visual style, which have established him as a force to be reckoned with.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s two Best Director Oscars have earned the Mexican filmmaker a place in movie history next to Hollywood legends John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
His debut feature film, the 2000 drama Amores Perros, as well as the second film he directed in his native Spanish language, Biutiful (2010), were nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscars. Set in four countries on three different continents and in four different languages, the 2006 film Babel earned seven Academy Award nominations.
In 2014, he directed and co-wrote his first comedy, Birdman; the film received nine Academy Award nominations, and went on to win four Oscars® including three for Iñárritu. In 2016, he won another Academy Award, for The Revenant, becoming only the third director in history to win the Best Director Oscar® two years in a row; the film itself was nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
His latest work, CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible), is a conceptual virtual reality installation that allows viewers to experience a fragment of personal journeys undertaken by refugees. It was awarded a special Oscar® at the 2017 Governors Awards.
Iñárritu’s films often feature interconnected stories and a nonlinear narrative, a realm where time is manufactured and plays a paramount role.
What does the concept of perpetual excellence mean to you?
The only thing that can last forever in a work of art, in that one personal and human expression, is how that work changes.
There will always be an evolution in how that work is perceived, depending on the moment in time it is seen and who sees it. So, a film as a work of art is a living thing, and it’s perpetually changing. It’s changed by every person who sees it and how it impacts each of them differently. The only thing that lasts forever is the changing nature of the piece via the people who experience it.
Do you have a philosophy that inspires or influences the way you work?
I’m self-taught and I’ve always obeyed and followed my intuition. Intuition is simply knowledge without information or data. It’s pure, it’s pure knowledge; it’s that wisdom that we all have inside of us.
How do you challenge yourself? And, how do you stay original while pushing your limits?
More than challenges, I think that it’s about being faithful to yourself. I think that is the most important limit to constantly push against. Because if you’re true to yourself, your loyalty toward your point of view carries with it an innate originality.
Anyone can share with everyone else their form of experience and interpretation of a unique way of having lived on the planet in an unrepeatable time and space. Everyone has that originality. And so, the task is how to articulate that experience. Finding the language to share it.
What would you like young filmmakers to take from your work and how do you invest in the new generation of up-and-coming filmmakers?
I feel there is something very important and beautiful happening with young filmmakers. This is different from my generation, where it felt like your destiny was already written depending on where you were born. Language was a big barrier, and beyond language itself, we did not have platforms where you had access to a large quantity and variety of movies from around the world. Our knowledge was much more restricted.
Now, thanks to those platforms and the access to all this universal cinema, young people today have no limits. They also do not have any prejudice about how they express themselves in the world – using their language, their customs and the things unique to them. They have that strength now, along with a vision and a knowledge available today about international filmmaking, which gives them wings. I believe that now, not only because of the technology available to make films, but also to be able to share those films through so many outlets on so many platforms, is a huge benefit and young people have taken advantage of it in an extremely powerful way.
Transcend your reason and follow your intuition.
What is your responsibility as a filmmaker?
It’s making the best movie I can, whenever I can. I feel the sole responsibility and duty as a filmmaker is to yourself. I mean, being true to yourself, honest with yourself. And I believe the most important thing is to accept, to find and embrace your limitations. Your virtues too, but more importantly your limitations. From there you can create with what you have, not what you wish you had but what was given to you.
Iñárritu was film mentor in the 2014-2015 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, when he invited his protégé, young Israeli director Tom Shoval, on the set of The Revenant, revealing all the “infinite possibilities” of filmmaking.