Rodrigo Prieto is a trailblazer…
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 Perros and 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.