Name:
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Birth Date:
August 15, 1963
Birth Place:
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Height:
5' 11½''
Nationality:
Mexican
Famous for:
21 Grams' (2003)
Profession:
Director, Producer
BIOGRAPHY
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Babel Brain

Background:

“Directing non-actors is difficult. Directing actors in a foreign language is even more difficult. Directing non-actors in a language that you yourself don't understand is the craziest thing you can possibly think of. But I would do it again in a minute.” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Academy Award-nominated Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, a former commercial sailor and radio DJ who was expelled from school at age 16, received critical praise for his films Amores Perros (2000; a.k.a. Love's a Bitch; starring Gael García Bernal and Vanessa Bauche), 21 Grams (2003; starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro) and Babel (2006; starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Kôji Yakusho and Gael García Bernal), all of which written by frequent collaborator Guillermo Arriaga. The 5' 11½" tall director also helmed Powder Keg (2001; a.k.a. The Hire: Powder Keg), one of five short film advertisements for BMW starring Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgård, and became one of the 11 esteemed filmmakers from different countries who contributed a short film collection about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 11'09''01 - September 11 (2002).


El Negro

Childhood and Family:

In Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was born on August 15, 1963. He is married to Maria Eladia and they have two children together. Inarritu, nicknamed “El Negro,” is friends with fellow successful Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro. Being kicked out of school at age 16, Inarritu studied filmmaking in Maine and Los Angeles, under Polish film director Ludwik Margules, and studied directing under Judith Weston in Los Angeles.


21 Grams

Career:

Being expelled from school at age 16, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu found his earliest job as a commercial sailor. While studying filmmaking and directing, he worked a DJ at top-rated Mexican radio station WFM in 1984 before going on composing music for a number of Mexican features, including Hernando Name's crime action film Garra de tigre (1989). At age 27, he became one of the youngest producers and directors in Mexican TV when he was in charge of the production of Televisa, Mexico's most important TV company. After leaving Televisa, he set up his own company, Zeta Films, a society for producing advertising and short films as well as television programs. He soon started writing and shooting TV advertising for Mexican television.

After producing his first half-length feature in 1995 for Televisa, Detrás del dinero (starring Spanish actor/singer Miguel Bosé), Inarritu, alongside screenwriter/ novelist Guillermo Arriaga (author of “Un Dolce Olor a Muerte” (a.k.a. “A Sweet Scent of Death”)), planned to make 11 shorts showing the contradictions of Mexico City. But three years later, the drafts became a feature length film entitled Amores Perros (1999; a.k.a. Love’s A Bitch), starring Gael García Bernal and Vanessa Bauche as the title characters. The drama thriller film, contains three distinct stories connected by an automobile accident in Mexico City, proved to be a critical success. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001 and won a string of awards all over the world, including a 2001 BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language, as well as 13 awards at the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences’ Silver Ariel Awards.

In 2001, Inarritu helmed Powder Keg (a.k.a. The Hire: Powder Keg), one of five short film advertisements for BMW. It stars Clive Owen as the mysterious Driver sent by the UN who must transport a war photographer (played by Stellan Skarsgård) who is wounded while witnessing a massacre at Nuevo Colon by terrorists. In 2002, he became one of the 11 esteemed filmmakers from different countries who contributed a short film collection which would be screened internationally under the title 11'09''01 - September 11. For the film, inspired by the events of the day, all directors gave their own vision of the events using a strict format: a duration of 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame. The film received the Special Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

Inarritu made his US feature debut with the death-minded drama 21 Grams (2002; written by Arriaga), starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro. Like the previous movie Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams also interweaves several plotlines, this time around the consequences of a tragic automobile accident. The movie was nominated in the 2003 Academy Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Benicio Del Toro who played an ex-con whose newly discovered Christianity is sorely tested in the aftermath of the accident, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Naomi Watts who played a grief stricken mother who is also recovering from a drug addiction.

“I don't like them. I feel that if you have to explain something it loses strength. It's like a magician trying to explain his magic, in a way. Those kind of things make me feel like I've lost something special about the film. The film should explain itself.” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (on why did he not record an audio commentary for 21 Grams).

In 2006, Inarritu directed Babel, starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Kôji Yakusho and Gael García Bernal. Written by frequent collaborator/screenwriter Arriaga, Babel is the multi-narrative drama which wraps his "death trilogy" that also consists of his previous film Amores Perros (1999) and 21 Grams (2002). It was first screened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and later at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Zagreb Film Festival. Having its full release on November 10, 2006, Babel won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama. It has also been nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The film also performed well in the box office. As of January 28, 2007, it has already grossed almost three times as its estimated production budget of $25 million. It also has surpassed Inarritu’s 21 Grams (2002) for North American box office, as well as that film's $60 million world-wide gross box office.

Meanwhile, Inarritu also executive-produced Rodrigo García's moving drama which tells nine short, loosely intertwining tales about nine different women, Nine Lives (starring Aidan Quinn and Holly Hunter), and the Spanish documentary Toro negro (both in 2005).

Awards:

  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Director of the Year Award, Babel, 2007
  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Director, Babel, 2006
  • Cannes Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Babel, 2006
  • Gotham: World Cinema Tribute Award, 2006
  • Independent Spirit: Special Distinction Award, 21 Grams, 2004
  • Venice Film Festival: UNESCO Award, 11'09''01 - September 11, 2002
  • London Critics Circle Film: Director of the Year, Amores Perros, 2002
  • BAFTA: Best Film not in the English Language, Amores Perros, 2002
  • Lleida Latin-American Film Festival: Best First Work, Amores Perros, 2001
  • MTV Movie, Latin America: MTV North Feed (mostly Mexico) - Favorite Film, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award - Best Director, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Argentinean Film Critics Association: Best Foreign Film, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Ariel: Best Direction, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Ariel: Best Editing, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Ariel: Best First Work, Amores Perros, 2001
  • Flanders International Film Festival: Grand Prix, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Oslo Films from the South Festival: Films from the South Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Premios ACE: Cinema - Best Director, Amores Perros, 2000
  • São Paulo International Film Festival: Critics Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • São Paulo International Film Festival: International Jury Award - Honorable Mention, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Tokyo International Film Festival: Best Director Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Tokyo International Film Festival: Tokyo Grand Prix, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Valdivia International Film Festival: Audience Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • AFI Fest: Audience Award - Best Feature Film, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Havana Film Festival: Coral - Best First Work, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Havana Film Festival: Cuban Press Association Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Havana Film Festival: Glauber Rocha Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Huelva Latin American Film Festival: Rábida Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Cannes Film Festival: Critics Week Grand Prize, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Cannes Film Festival: Young Critics Award - Best Feature, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Chicago International Film Festival: Audience Choice Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Chicago International Film Festival: Gold Hugo - Best Film, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival: New Director's Award, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Bogota Film Festival: Audience Award - Best Film, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Bogota Film Festival: Golden Precolumbian Circle - Best Director, Amores Perros, 2000
  • Bogota Film Festival: Golden Precolumbian Circle - Best Film, Amores Perros, 2000
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