The 55-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated cinematographer is the recipient of the 2021 Vilcek Prize in Filmmaking, according to the Vilcek Foundation.
The award is part of the Vilcek Foundation Prizes, which are bestowed in a range of categories each year, in celebration of the outstanding contributions of immigrant trailblazers, within the arts and sciences.
Prieto, a Mexican native, has established himself over the years as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after DPs. Boasting credits including Amores Perrosand Brokeback Mountain, he’s known for his collaborations with renowned directors including Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Julie Taymor, Oliver Stone and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
A three-time Academy Awards nominee most recently recognized by the Academy for his groundbreaking work on Scorsese’s The Irishman, Prieto has also received accolades for his work from BAFTA, the American Society of Cinematographers and the Independent Spirit Awards.
Known for his unconventional camerawork, and his remarkably detailed, evocative compositions, the DP grew up with a visual artist for a mother and an aeronautical engineer for a father. Thus, in his own career, he would come to balance technology with artistry, aiming with each new project to create a distinctive and visceral, cinematic experience. “That combination…is something that I have in my DNA,” Prieto says, “utilizing technology and different techniques to create art.”
Established in 2006, as a means of championing diverse perspectives—thereby advancing the arts and sciences—The Vilcek Foundation has thus far awarded over $5.8 million to immigrants from 56 different countries.
“As leaders in the arts, we have a responsibility to promote diversity by making space, providing access, and amplifying the artistic contributions of marginalized groups and individuals,” Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel says. “The Vilcek Prizes in the arts and humanities enable us to speak to the value of immigration for our society in a non-politicized way.”
This year, other prize recipients include geneticist Ruth Lehmann, chemical biologist Mohamed Abou Donia, entrepreneur (and former presidential candidate) Andrew Yang, and a number of filmmakers—among them, Juan Pablo González, Miko Revereza and Nanfu Wang.
González has been awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Filmmaking for the artistic rigor and deep emotional engagement that he brings to his immersive and intimate explorations of his hometown in rural Mexico.
Up next for Prieto is Scorsese’s sprawling crime drama, Killers of the Flower Moon. Set in 1920s Oklahoma, the Apple Original Film centers on an investigation into a string of brutal murders within the Osage tribe. Eric Roth wrote the script, adapting an acclaimed work of nonfiction by David Grann.
The 65-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated actress will serve up some scares in Amazon Studios’ next slate of films in the horror anthology Welcome To The Blumhouse. Barraza will star in Bingodirected and co-written by rising genre filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero. The film is currently in production.
The collaboration is a Latinx-driven narrative that includes two generations of Mexican artists. In this case, Barraza and the up and comer Guerrero.
Set in the barrio of Oak Springs, Bingo follows a strong and stubborn group of elderly friends who refuse to be gentrified. Barraza plays the leader of the pack, Lupita, a “chingona” who grew up in the neighborhood formerly filled with crime and dangerous characters. Lupita has dedicated her life to cleaning up the neighborhood and creating a community the residents could be proud to call home. Little does Lupita and her friends know, their beloved bingo hall (hence the title) is about to be sold to a much more powerful force than money itself.
Bingo continues Amazon Prime Video’s Welcome to the Blumhouse slate of genre, horror-thriller films highlighting female and emerging filmmakers, and diverse casts with new and established actors in unexpected roles. The upcoming 2021 slate for the anthology also includes The Manor, Black as Night, and Madres.
Guerrero co-wrote Bingo with Shane McKenzie and Perry Blackshear. The film comes from Blumhouse Television and Amazon Studios.
Prime Video launched the Welcome to the Blumhouse in October of last year with Black Box, The Lie, Evil Eyeand Nocturne.
Barraza’s career spans more than 40 years in film, television and theater. In 1999, Barraza starred in a breakout role opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in Amores Perros directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who she worked with again in 2006 on Babel. She is one of only six Mexican actresses to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
The Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences has chosen the Mexican filmmaker’s I’m No Longer Hereas Mexico’s official entry for the International Feature FilmOscar race.
The film centers on the young leader (Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino) of a small Monterrey street gang from the Cholombiano subculture who longs for home after being forced to move to Jackson Heights, Queens, after an altercation with a local cartel. It premiered at the 2019 Morelia Film Festival, where it won Best Feature and was a selection of this year’s truncated Tribeca Film Festival.
The film received 10 Ariel Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and is Mexico’s official submission for Spain’s Goya Awards.
Netflix acquired worldwide rights back in 2018, and it bowed on the streamer on May 27.
“The news took me by surprise, and I am overwhelmed with happiness and excitement,” said Frias. “I am enormously grateful to the Academy and its members and the entire industry that has supported us, such as Netflix and IMCINE, but also to the people. The public has shown us that they are ready to connect with our stories here in Mexico. That fills me with pride.”
Mexico has seen nine film nominated for the Academy Awards’ International Feature race (it was formerly known as Outstanding Foreign-Language Feature) with films from the likes of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. It’s only one the top prize once, however, for Alfonso Cuarón’sRoma, also from Netflix, in 2018.
The 54-year-old three-time Oscar-nominated Mexican cinematographer is earning rave reviews for his work on Taylor Swift’s music video for the pop star’s latest single “Cardigan.”
The top-secret music video, written, directed and styled by Swift, was filmed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dreamy video, released on Friday, July 24 alongside Swift’s new album Folklore, presents a cottagecore aesthetic and features Swift in three different settings.
The “homespun” and “dreamlike” video starts out with Swift sitting in a candlelit cottage in the woods, wearing a nightgown and playing a vintage upright piano. When the soundboard starts glowing, she climbs into it and is magically transported to a moss-covered forest, where she plays the song on a grand piano producing a waterfall. The piano bench starts to glow and she climbs into it. She gets transported to a dark stormy sea, where she holds on to a floating piano. The piano soundboard glows and she climbs in, and she returns to the cottage, where she dons a cardigan.
“She had the whole storyline – the whole notion of going into the piano and coming out into the forest, the water, going back into the piano,” Prieto tells Rolling Stoneof hisfirst phone call with Swift.
Their last collaboration, on the music video for “The Man,” saw Swift adopting a male alter ego to satirize gender inequality.
From the beginning, though, Prieto says “Cardigan” was always going to be more ambiguous, and more personal: “When she called me and told me that this was more of a fantasy, I found that really appealing.”
This was in early July, when Prieto had simultaneously begun serving on a committee for the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) to conceive solutions for safely resuming film production during the ongoing pandemic.
Prieto had just finished filming a PSA for a healthcare company when Swift asked him to work on “Cardigan,” and he was well aware of the many, many layers of risks involved in the project.
“We needed to be safe, for her sake and for our sake as a crew during the shoot, but also for the future of filmmaking,” he says. “Because we want to keep working and doing what we do, and if, God forbid, someone got sick on one of the first jobs that was filmed, it would probably close down [the industry].”
The extensive safety protocols for the shoot ranged from standard – everybody had to get tested, and every member of the crew wore a mask – to outlandish: Because Swift would need to spend a large part of the shoot not wearing a face covering, the crew used a colored wristband system, determining which members of the team were permitted to stand closest to her. (Prieto, assistant director Joe Osborne, and set designer Ethan Tobman all wore one color, lighting designers and gaffers wore another, and so on.)
Prieto actually wore two face coverings – a mask and an acrylic shield – for most of the day-and-a-half-long shoot. And just to ensure that crew members crossed within a six-foot range of Swift as little as possible, the entire “Cardigan” video was shot by mounting the camera to a robotic arm, which was then controlled by a remote operator.
The “techno arm,” as Prieto calls it, is typically only used in the industry for crane shots and other establishing visuals.
“We were going to use the crane for the ocean scene,” Prieto explains, referencing the shot where the image zooms out on the wide expanse of the water before honing back in on Swift. “So then I said, let’s have it both days.”
Hooking the camera up to a giant robot was the safest way to get close-ups on Swift’s face, Prieto explains. And as unwieldy as that sounds, you’d never know from watching the video that a human being wasn’t behind the lens at all times.
There was, of course, the added tangle of secrecy – the filmmaking had to be done indoors to avoid crowds, and Swift wore an earpiece throughout the shoot to lip-sync to the song without any of the crew hearing it.
The crew built three sets on two stages across one large studio, and in order to create the illusion of natural light for the outdoor scenes, Prieto and his crew draped giant stretches of white bouncing fabric on the walls and ceiling. The process took longer than usual due to COVID, with the lighting crew working in small groups and frequently taking breaks so they could remove masks and catch their breath.
“Filmmaking is a gregarious endeavor by nature,” Prieto says. “People are close to each other, so it’s really hard to remember to keep to yourselves.” Given the distancing on set, it was sometimes tricky for crew members to communicate over reference points and documents – “we had to kind of point at each other” – but Prieto attributes Swift’s clear vision for the project as a guiding light.
Ahead of the shoot, she sent him and Tobman numerous visual references for each scene – a mix of photographs for the dark ocean water and drawings for the fantastical forest sequence. One illustration, of a sword lodged into a rock formation overlooking a creek, was particularly inspiring: “That became our focal interest – we didn’t imitate it, but the feeling of it was what we went with.”
On top of that, Swift came up with a detailed shot list for the video ahead of time, with each visual accompanied by a time sequence within the song.
“The ocean water, the fingers on the piano, whatever it may be, she knew what she wanted for each section,” Prieto says. Unlike with “The Man,” Swift couldn’t be as hands-on with her direction on set – she viewed each take through a video monitor after it was shot – but Prieto was impressed by her ability to “talk with the camera” and utilize cinematic language without formal training, like with the unorthodox, zoom-out-and-in shot over the ocean. “I was blown away, because it’s all metaphorical,” he says. “This video is not just pretty images of things; she’s telling a personal story through her lyrics, her music, and now through the video.”
The video has already been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube since its release.
Prieto previously earned Academy Awards for his lensing work on Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2006), Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2017) and Scorsese’s The Irishman (2020).
His other film credits include Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel (2006) and Biutiful (2010), Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants and Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo.
Following the first class on Saturday, the festival inaugurated a state-of-the-art cinema named after del Toro, and then organizers announced the creation of the Jenkins-Del Toro International Film Scholarship, a $60,000 annual award for an aspiring Mexican filmmaker to study abroad at a prestigious film institute.
“If we change a life, if we change a history, we change a generation,” said del Toro, whose genre filmmaking has inspired a new generation of talent in Mexico.
Del Toro and fellow countrymen Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman) regularly produce films from up-and-coming Mexican filmmakers.
“The first push is very important,” said del Toro, who will oversee a jury that awards the scholarship at the Guadalajara film fest each year.
del Toro also announced that his At Home with Monstersexhibit will hit museums in Guadalajara and Mexico City next year. The exhibit features 500 drawings, paintings and concept pieces from del Toro’s works, including creepy life-size sculptures of monster figures. The collection, to be curated by Oscar-winning production designer Eugenio Caballero (Pan’s Labyrinth), bowed in 2016 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
It’s turned out to be a monster night for Guillermo del Toro…
The 53-year-old Mexican filmmaker had a nearly perfect night, picking up his first-ever Academy Awards for his romantic fantasy drama The Shape of Water.
del Toro, who co-wrote, directed and produced the film, was named Best Director, an award he was predicted to win throughout awards season.
Additionally, del Toro’s The Shape of Water took home the night’s top prize, Best Picture.
The romantic fable was conceived by del Toro as a tribute to the monster movies he loved as a child, updated to tell a story about tolerance and compassion that could speak to a contemporary audience.The film ultimately took home four Oscars, the most of any nominee.
“As a kid enamored of movies growing up in Mexico, I thought it would never happened, but it happened,” said del Toro, in accepting the Best Picture award.
del Toro, who missed out on being 3-for-3 when he lost in the Best Original Screenplay category, urged other young filmmakers to take inspiration from his win, and “use the power of fantasy to tell stories about things that are real in the world.”
The award was presented by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, who famously announced the wrong Best Picture winner last year, naming La La Landinstead of actual winner Moonlight.
Meanwhile, Disney/Pixar’s Dia de los Muertos-themed animated film Cocowon best animated feature and its featured tune, “Remember Me,” won Best Original Song.
And, the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film went to A Fantastic Woman, from Chile, the story of a transgender person struggling in the aftermath of the death of a lover.
The film edged out Ruben Östlund’s Swedish satire The Square and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Russian fable Loveless.
Directed by Sebastián Lelio and written by Lelio and Gonzalo Maza, the film marks the first Chilean entry for the foreign language Oscar since Pablo Larraín’s No, and the first ever Academy award for Lelio, in his follow-up to the acclaimed film Gloria.
At Sunday’s ceremony, the film’s star Daniela Vega became the first openly transgender person to present an award at the Oscars.
Here’s a look at all of this year’s Academy Award winners.
BEST PICTURE The Shape of Water
ACTRESS Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
ACTOR Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
DIRECTOR Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
SUPPORTING ACTRESS Allison Janney, I, Tonya
SUPPORTING ACTOR Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
ORIGINAL SONG (PRESENTED TO SONGWRITERS) Remember Me, from Coco (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
ORIGINAL SCORE The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
CINEMATOGRAPHY Blade Runner 2049, Roger A. Deakins
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Get Out, Jordan Peele
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) The Silent Child
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT) Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
FILM EDITING Dunkirk, Lee Smith
VISUAL EFFECTS Blade Runner 2049
ANIMATED FEATURE Coco
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED) Dear Basketball
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
PRODUCTION DESIGN The Shape of Water
SOUND MIXING Dunkirk
SOUND EDITING Dunkirk, Richard King and Alex Gibson
DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE) Icarus
COSTUME DESIGN Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick
Rodrigo Prieto is stepping into the director’s chair…
The 51-year-old Mexican cinematographer, who has worked on films such as Martin Scorcese’s Silence and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, will make his directorial debut with the revenge thriller Bastard.
Based on an original script penned by Bill Gullo, Bastard is a taut revenge thriller with a riveting antagonist at its core, set against a looming flood that will ravage the small town of Bird’s Point, Missouri.
A Mexico-City native, Prieto started his career shooting television commercials at the age of 22 before moving into features in 1992. He broke out into the film scene with his work on Amores Perros, which kicked off his collaboration with director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Prieto boasts a top-notch list of film credits including Julie Taymor’s Frida; Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile; Spike Lee’s 25th Hour; Iñárritu’s 21 Grams andBabel;Oliver Stone’s Alexander; Kevin Macdonald’s State of Play; Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces; Francis Laurence’s Water for Elephants; Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo; Lee’s Brokeback Mountain; Ben Affleck’s Argo; and a clutch of Scorcese titles.
He’s most recently worked on HBO series Vinyland Silence, the latter of which saw him earn an Oscar nomination.
Prieto directed his first short film Likeness, starring Elle Fanning, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2018.
The 48-year-old Mexican American filmmaker will partner with Barbra Streisand for a special talk at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Streisand, an icon in multiple entertainment fields, will converse on her unparalleled career and force field of creativity with filmmaker Rodriguez, the mastermind behind such films asEl Mariachi, Desperadoand Once Upon a Time in Mexico, as part of the festival’s Tribeca Talks: Storytellers series.
Streisand has attained unprecedented achievements as a recording artist, actor, director, producer, concert performer, author and songwriter. Streisand has been awarded two Oscars, five Emmys, ten Golden Globes, eight Grammys plus two special Grammys, a special Tony Award in 1970, and two CableACE Awards – the only artist to receive honors in all of those fields of endeavor.
Rodriguez, a horror/cult movie maestro, will pose questions to Streisand on her storied career.
But he isn’t the only Latino taking part in this year’s Tribeca Talks…
Alejandro González Iñárritu will talk part in the Tribeca Talks: Director Series, a series of will “intimate talks and discussions.”
The Oscar-winning Mexican filmmaker, who directed Birdmanand The Revenant, will discuss his own body of work.
The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 19-30. Visit the festival’s website for more details.
Here’s more on the two Tribeca Talks:
Tribeca Talks: Directors Series
Today’s most groundbreaking filmmakers discuss their careers and highlights.
Alejandro González Iñárritu Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, one of only three directors to ever win consecutive Oscars and the first to do so in 65 years, will talk about his beautifully varied work on films such as Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Biutiful, Babel, and most recently, The Revenant. Iñárritu is the first Mexican filmmaker to have been nominated for Best Director and Best Producer in the history of the Academy Awards. DATE: Saturday, April 22 TIME: 2:30PM
Tribeca Talks: Storytellers
Some of today’s most innovative creators broke from traditional roles and pioneered their own forms of storytelling, often mastering multiple mediums. This series will celebrate the illustrious careers of those individuals who have broken from the mold.
Barbra Streisand with Robert Rodriguez
Widely recognized as an icon in multiple entertainment fields, Barbra Streisand has attained unprecedented achievements as a recording artist, actor, director, producer, concert performer, author and songwriter. Streisand has been awarded two Oscars, five Emmys, ten Golden Globes, eight Grammys plus two special Grammys, a special Tony award in 1970, and two CableACE Awards – the only artist to receive honors in all of those fields of endeavor. She will converse on her unparalleled career and force field of creativity with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. DATE: Saturday, April 29 TIME: 6:00PM LOCATION: BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is planning to shed some light on immigrant experience…
The two-time Mexican Oscar-winning director is working on a virtual reality short, one that he’s been developing for four years.
The short is being produced and financed by Legendary Entertainment and Fondazione Prada, which announced it. ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s recently established Immersive Entertainment division, will build the virtual world and characters.
Gonzalez Inarritu will work once again with Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki in what is described as an experiment for their first time within a space narrative in this new visual medium.
The immersive virtual reality piece will explore the intense and excruciating experience of a group of immigrants and refugees crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S.
The companies haven’t disclosed their plans for releasing the project.
The 36-year-old Guatemalan and Cuban American actor is among the Latino talents earning a Critics’ Choice Awards nomination.
Isaac earned his nod in the Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series for his performance in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero. It’s his first nomination in an acting category. He previously was nominated in the Song category for co-penning “Please Mr. Kennedy” for the film Inside Llewyn Davis with Adam Driver and Justin Timberlake.
Rodriguez’s Jane the Virgin co-star Jamie Camil picked up his second nod in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category for his role as Rodriguez’s onscreen father. He’ll face off against Mel Rodriguez, who received his nomination for his performance on HBO’s Getting On.
In the film section, Alejandro González Iñárritu earned a nod in the Director category for helming the western drama/thriller The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. The Mexican filmmaker was nominated last year in the same category for directing Birdman. He lost in that category, but took home the Screenplay trophy for the same film.
Meanwhile, the film’s lenser Emmanuel Lubezki received a nom in the Cinematography category. He’s the two-time reigning champion in the category after winning for his work on Gravity in 2014 and Birdman in 2015. He also won the prize in 2012 for The Tree of Life.
Paco Delgado picked up a nod in the Costume Design category for his work on The Danish Girl. He previously was nominated in 2013 for his work on Les Misérables.
Hosted by T.J. Miller, the awards show will be held on January 17 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. It will air simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime and LMN.
Here are the categories featuring Latino nominees for the 21st annual Critics’ Choice Awards:
DIRECTOR Todd Haynes – Carol Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
CINEMATOGRAPHY Carol – Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
The Martian – Dariusz Wolski
The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario – Roger Deakins
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM The Assassin
Mustang The Second Mother
Son of Saul
ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES Wes Bentley – American Horror Story: Hotel – FX
Martin Clunes – Arthur & George – PBS
Idris Elba – Luther – BBC America Oscar Isaac – Show Me a Hero – HBO
Vincent Kartheiser – Saints & Strangers – National Geographic Channel
Patrick Wilson – Fargo – FX
ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES Rachel Bloom – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – The CW
Aya Cash – You’re the Worst – FXX
Wendi McLendon-Covey – The Goldbergs – ABC Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin – The CW
Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish – ABC
Constance Wu – Fresh Off the Boat – ABC
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Fox Jaime Camil – Jane the Virgin – The CW
Jay Duplass – Transparent – Amazon
Neil Flynn – The Middle – ABC
Keegan-Michael Key – Playing House – USA Mel Rodriguez – Getting On – HBO