Alejandro González Iñárritu, the Oscar-winning director of Birdman, The Revenant, and the upcoming Netflix movie Bardo, will receive the Cinema Audio Society‘s Filmmaker of the Year honor at the 59th CAS Awards on Saturday, March 4 at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel.
“It is an honor to name director Alejandro González Iñárritu as [the] recipient of the prestigious 2023 CAS Filmmaker Award. His sobering portrayals of the human experience bring empathy and consciousness to perspectives often left untold and unconsidered,” CAS President Karol Urban said in a statement. “No doubt drawing on his history in music, his films experiment and utilize sound — uniquely embracing its capacity to emotionally engulf the viewer.”
“Being singled out as a filmmaker by my colleagues in the Cinema Audio Society is a great honor. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the most gifted sound designers in the industry and truly cannot emphasize the importance of the work they do in creating a fully sensorial experience for audiences when watching a film,” Iñárritu said in his own statement.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Iñárritu is considered one of cinema’s most celebrated and respected storytellers. His influential body of work explores the human condition with cinematic daring and deeply affecting visual and sonic grammar that gives equal weight to a project’s audio as much as the image.
“Sound is primal. It is a sensorial frequency, it hits our body, and our body does not lie. Unlike the image, it does not need a process of interpretation or intellectualization. For this reason, I think sound is even more impactful than the visuals, and through it, you can have parallel narratives along a film,” Iñárritu added.
Always sensitive to the importance of music and sound, Iñárritu began his career as a host and director at Mexico City’s rock radio station WFM before transitioning to writing, producing, and directing short films and commercials under his Z Films company. He went on to make his feature directorial debut in 2000 with the Academy Award-nominated Amores Perros.
“I believe Amores Perros was an important soundtrack that collected at a very interesting time the best bands of Mexico and Latin America, plus the score of Gustavo Santaolalla. Both things wove together to create a sonic mosaic with a very ‘chilango’ particular personality,” Iñárritu told CAS.
The critically acclaimed 21 Grams followed, receiving Oscar nominations for Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro‘s performances. Babel completed Iñárritu’s thematic Death Trilogy, garnering seven Academy Award nominations and earning him the Best Director award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Critically and commercially successful Biutiful was nominated in 2011 for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards, and Academy Awards.
In 2015, Iñárritu won the Academy Award for Best Director for Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a dark comedy for which he also shared Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and the following year, Iñárritu won his second directing Oscar for The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
In 2017 his visionary, viscerally impactful VR installation Carne y Arena (“Virtually present, physically invisible”) launched at the Cannes Film Festival to international critical acclaim — the first VR project chosen as an official selection of the festival. In 2018, the project won a Golden Reel for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR for Special Venue from the Motion Picture Sound Editors.
The director’s current film Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths depicts an intimate journey of a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles, who, after being named the recipient of a prestigious international award, is compelled to return to his native country, unaware that this simple trip will push him to an existential limit. Bardo marks Iñárritu’s first time making a film in Mexico in more than 20 years.
All in all, Iñárritu is the first Mexican filmmaker to be nominated for either directing or producing in the history of the Academy Awards, the first to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and for Best Picture, the first to receive the Best Director Award at Cannes, and the first to win a DGA Award for Outstanding Director (and in consecutive years, no less).
This will be the 18th year that CAS bestows its Filmmaker Award, and past honorees have included Gil Cates, George Clooney, Bill Condon, Jonathan Demme, Jon Favreau, Taylor Hackford, Richard Linklater, James Mangold, Rob Marshall, Paul Mazursky, Jay Roach, Sir Ridley Scott, Henry Selick, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Wright, and Edward Zwick.
CAS will also honor five-time Oscar nominee Peter J. Devlin, CAS (Black Panther, Wakanda Forever) with its highest honor, the annual Career Achievement Award at its March 4 ceremony. Click here for this year’s timeline, application rules, and regulations for the CAS Awards.