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Guillermo Arriaga

About this Artist

One of today’s most original storytelling voices, Oscar-nominated screenwriter GUILLERMO ARRIAGA spins exhilaratingly complex, emotional, and provocative tapestries of human lives under intense pressure. His acclaimed and award-winning films – which include Babel, 21 Grams, Amores Perros, and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 – traverse a dazzling range of subject matters, characters, and moods, yet share a visceral, often luminous, humanity.

Arriaga made his feature directorial debut with The Burning Plain. Based on his own screenplay, the film starred Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, and newcomer Jennifer Lawrence in an interconnected love story about family, memory, and mysterious connections across multiple generations. The Burning Plain premiered at the 2008 Venice Film Festival.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Arriaga first came to the fore in that country as a renowned novelist. His works, rife with a trademark sense of humor and irony, include Guillotine Squad (1991), A Sweet Smell of Death (1994), and The Night Buffalo (1999), as well as a book of short stories, Retorno 201 (2003), written when he was just 24. They have been translated in 14 languages including English, German, Greek, Czech, Dutch, Portugese, Italian, French, Turkish, Serbian, and Romanian.

In 1985, Arriaga suffered a serious car accident, which he later used as the basis for the film trilogy that began with the run-away success of Amores Perros, the first of three collaborations with director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Starring Gabriel García Bernal and Adriana Barazza, the film explores the radiating effects of a single automobile crash on its various participants: the injured, the guilty, and the witness. The success of the film brought Arriaga his first taste of the global reach of cinema. After winning over international critics who hailed Amores Perros as an instant cinematic classic, the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and won the BAFTA Award in the same category in 2001.

In addition to his feature films and novels, Arriaga has also directed, produced, and written short films, documentaries, television series, and radio and television commercials, and has been a college professor for more than 25 years.