Alejandro González Iñárritu
life and career
He was born in Mexico City to Hector González Gama and Luz María Iñárritu. He grew up in La Colonia Narvarte, a middle class neighborhood near downtown Mexico City. His father used to be a rich banker, but when Alejandro was five or six years old, he went bankrupt and lost everything. Alejandro says his father has been his inspiration because he took care of his family "with the virtue of a warrior". His father started a business by himself, buying fruits and vegetables in the Central de Abastos market in order to sell them to restaurants during the day. Even though he faced some economic hardship he was very happy as a child. As an adolescent, first at seventeen then at nineteen years old, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a cargo boat working cleaning the floors and greasing the engines. The second time he went, he stayed in Europe and Africa staying one year surviving on just one thousand dollars. He attributes these physical and intellectual experiences during this time as a major influence in his work. He also believes that reading the classic existentialist writers during this period of his adolescence as greatly influential in his later film work.
He studied communications at Universidad Iberoamericana while simultaneously starting his career as a radio host in 1984 at the Mexican radio station WFM. In 1988 he became the director of this rock and eclectic music station, becoming for five years the number one radio station in Mexico City for young audiences. From 1987 to 1989, he composed music for six Mexican feature films, including Garra de tigre (1989). He has called himself a frustrated musician and music has had more influence on him than film. He studied theater with well known Polish film director Ludwik Margules. He later studied directing actors in Maine and Los Angeles under Judith Weston. In the nineties he created Z films with Raul Olvera in order to start writing, producing and directing feature films, short films, audio, advertisements, and television programs. By 1995, Z films was one of the biggest and strongest film production companies in Mexico created with seven young directors that then all went on to direct feature films.
Path to fame
Alejandro wrote, produced and directed a half-length feature in 1995, Detrás del dinero, that aired on national TV and starred Spanish actor/singer Miguel Bosé.
He met Guillermo Arriaga, after 3 years and 36 drafts with the screenwriter, he ended up with three stories into the feature-length film, Amores perros (2000) introducing Gael García Bernal in his first role in cinema. This gritty look at the underbelly of Mexican life garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film as well as a BAFTA Film Award for "Best Film not in the English Language", the Critics Week Grand Prize and Young Critics Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. It was the most awarded film of that year with over sixty awards from film festivals worldwide.
González Iñárritu made the fifth short ("Powder Keg") in the BMW The Hire series along with Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, Guy Ritchie and John Frankenheimer. He also directed a segment of the independent feature 11'09"01 September 11 (2002), a collective movie about the influence of 9-11 on the world, along with Claude Lelouch, Shōhei Imamura, Ken Loach, Mira Nair, Amos Gitai andSean Penn.
Move to Hollywood
After the success of Amores perros González Iñárritu decided to direct his second film, this time in the U.S., titled 21 Grams. Again written by Guillermo Arriaga based on an idea by both, it starredBenicio del Toro, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. The film was presented at the Venice Film Festival, winning the Volpi Cup for actor Sean Penn. At the 2004 Academy Awards, Del Toro and Watts received nominations for their performances.
His project, Babel, consisted of four stories set in Morocco, Mexico, the United States, and Japan, in four different time frames. The film starts Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett but introduced a full cast of non- actors and some new actors such as Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi. It was presented at Cannes 2006, where he earned the Best Director Prize (Prix de la mise en scène). Babel was released in November 2006 and received seven nominations at the 79th annual Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Best Motion Picture in the drama category at the Golden Globe Awards on January 15, 2007. Gustavo Santaolalla won the Academy Award that year for Best Original Score.
In 2006, Arriaga and González Iñárritu had a falling out when Arriaga started a personal campaign stating that screenwriters should not only have the screenplay credit (as he already did), but also be credited as an auteur of the film along with the director. González Iñárritu pushed back by saying that someone who has never set foot on a set or directed an image of a film could not possibly claim auteurship of an audiovisual medium. Because the relation had ended long before the shooting of "Babel" started, Arriaga's behavior led to his dis-invitation from the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Sources in the industry believe that it is unlikely that the pair will ever work together again.
Babel received 7 nominations for the 79th Annual Academy Awards, including for Best Picture and Achievement in Directing,
In 2007, Iñárritu made the short film, ANNA, which was screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival inside Chacun son cinéma. It was part of the 60th anniversary of the film festival and it was a series of shorts by 33 world-renown film directors such as Roman Polanski, Abbas Kierostami, the Coen brothers, Theo Angelopoulos, David Cronenberg, the Dardenne brothers, Manoel de Oliveria,Hou Hsiao Hsien, Aki Kaurismaki, Takeshi Kitano, David Lynch, Nanni Moretti, Gus Van Sant, Lars Von Trier, Wim Wenders, and Zhang Yimou.
In 2008, he produced the feature film Rudo y Cursi, a comedy-drama directed by Carlos Cuarón in which Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna play professional soccer playing brothers.
In 2010, Iñárritu directed Write the Future, a football-themed commercial for Nike ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which featured footballers Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Franck Ribéry, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué, Cesc Fàbregas, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, tennis player Roger Federer, basketball player Kobe Bryant, the famous cartoon character Homer Simpson, and long-time Iñárritu collaborator Gael García Bernal, among several others.
His last film Biutiful starring Javier Bardem, premiered at Cannes on May 17, 2010, with Bardem winning for Best Actor, an award shared with Elio Germano for La Nostra Vita. It is his first film in his native language since his debut feature Amores perros. It has been selected as the Mexican entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. It made the January shortlistand then made the final list of five nominees. It has also been nominated for the 2011 Golden Globes in the category of Best Foreign Film as well as at the 2011 BAFTA awards in the category of Best Film Not in the English Language. It is a highly lauded film and many critics say it is some of his best work yet.