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Rolex Testimonee Alejandro G. Iñárritu on transmitting knowledge

Known for his exploration of the human condition, coupled with his visual style, Rolex Testimonee Alejandro Iñárritu is a cinematic force to be reckoned with.

Nov 16, 2020 | By Jonathan Ho

Winning three Academy Awards for directing, co-writing and co-producing an existential dark comedy exploring the ego of a forgotten superhero actor, is something an undeniable talent like Mexican filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu does. The youngest of seven siblings, Rolex Testimonee Iñárritu shared a common influence with fellow Rolex Testimonee Kathryn Bigelow in the form of Czech-American writer-director Miloš Forman. So strong was Forman’s impact that Iñárritu learned to shape his creative instincts via an irrepressible wanderlust and romanticism.

Working as a sailor on cargo boats, his travels through Europe and Africa would open his eyes as a filmmaker and eventually provide the muse for the settings of his films. Iñárritu returned to Mexico City where he studied communications at Universidad Iberoamericana, one of the most prestigious private universities in Mexico. Iñárritu’s career began as a radio host at a local radio station.

Rolex Testimonee Alejandro G. Iñárritu: The Birdman who Soared

Someone who helps you see something within yourself, something that you had not seen and who gives you the confidence to carry it out, even if you think you don’t know it.. – Alejandro G. Iñárritu on mentorship

Having won multiple awards for his films throughout his career, including five Academy Awards, Iñárritu counts music as a far bigger influence on his filmmaking than film itself but he admits that Ludwik Margules, an erudite Polish immigrant, under whom he was lucky to study theatre, taught him to question himself and to embrace uncertainty as part of the process.

“He transformed my perception of what it was like to be a director. I had jumped to a conclusion of what directing was like, but I didn’t have the real perception, the deep knowledge, the consciousness. He gave me the self-confidence to answer my own questions without fear, and with humility and veneration for the art,” Iñárritu recalls fondly, “I don’t think it’s possible for a teacher to tell you that. A teacher gives you knowledge, but wisdom is something else. He filled me with a passion for human drama, to the dramaturgy of being able to represent human nature in the art of filmmaking.”

A Master of Cinema transmits knowledge and transforms perceptions

Known for his exploration of the human condition, coupled with his visual style, which have established Iñárritu as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Iñárritu was mentored by Margules for three years, transforming his “perception of what it means to be a director” while propelling him to believe in himself. But, as Iñárritu admits that it was his friend Ernesto Bolio, who taught him the most.

I was lucky to have two mentors who – in very different ways and beyond just transmitting knowledge – brought out the best in me.

“Bolio knows very little about movies, but knows a lot about life (and life is the stuff that movies are made of). With patience and profound wisdom, he taught me to accept, learn and to transform, overcome the most difficult situations of my life. You don’t go anywhere alone,” shares Iñárritu. “In a way, he (Bolio) opened my consciousness, he opened the door of light to get to know myself and to get the best out of myself. That’s why I would like to be there for someone else, in much the same way these men were there for me.”

Indeed, his 2014 comedy-genre debut Birdman received nine Academy Award nominations, and went on to win four Oscars, including three for the talented aueteur. Two years later, he won another Academy Award, for The Revenant, becoming only the third director in history to win the Oscars for Best Director two years in a row; the film itself was nominated for 12 Academy Awards.

Truthfully, it’s not hard to watch Birdman and not feel like you’ve witnessed the extraordinary. Hallucinogenic cinematography captures Michael Keaton in a seemingly single take, in a story about an actor attempting to make a comeback in theatre after years of being typecast as an invincible superhero – when superb casting and enlightened camerawork meet – magic happens. Speaking to Indiewire, it’s the unpredictability of Birdman’s premise and setting which fascinated Iñárritu, “I think the way the film was shot was exactly like that —the fact that the guy knows that in three days  he’s going to be exposed to the premiere of his play and he will be judged live after being a superhero movie star, which is exactly contrary to reality and naturalism. I think that’s part of the theme, and the actors felt like that while we were shooting, so we were rehearsing a scene that was about rehearsing a scene that will be presented in a live performance. When we were shooting that, we were mirroring the mirror of the reality of reality.”

With The Revenant, Iñárritu’s academy award-winning film captured the zeitgeist of the human condition in the story of one man: Hugh Glass, an 1820s adventurer and fur trapper who survived a grizzly bear attack and endured miles of rugged tundra to get revenge on the men who betrayed him. “A film like this,” Iñárritu says, “is a homage to the original cinema tradition, where the directors went to the places, and you risked challenges. I passionately believe that that should be an example of how film should be committed.”

A crew member recalls shooting conditions to be torturous but Iñárritu recalls with great passion, those were the conditions that we went through. I didn’t have to remind the actors, “You’re pretending to be cold.” No, they were really cold. All the elements were there for them to use. It became method acting, method directing — and that was a privilege. That was a gift.” Indeed, the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master which conquered the skies during its launch in 1955, is emblematic of Iñárritu’s mastery of medium and milieu. From engineering an avalanche to feeding Leonardo DiCaprio raw bison liver, Iñárritu’s Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II with its extremely robust, virtually scratchproof 24-hour graduated two-colour Cerachrom insert with excellent corrosion-resistant ceramic is every inch a mirror of Iñárritu’s cinematic reality and his choice.




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