Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu became aware of the fragility of day to day life at a relatively young age; a middle class child, his father suddenly lost his job in the financial sector in Mexico and with alarming speed, Alajandro’s life changed in ways he could never have imagined. His family went from living comfortably in an upper middle class neighborhood to barely surviving. It was only through his father’s ingenuity and survival instincts that the family was able to return to prosperity; Alajandro’s father re-invented himself as a produce vendor for restaurants and hotels and was able to completely change his life while bringing stability back to his family. It was these brushes with adversity and hardship that partly informed the films Alajandro would go on to make as an adult. He had always been a fan of film and enjoyed movies which had a literary influence running through them; he also considered himself a music aficionado and as such gravitated towards the spectacle and song that musicals provided – two of his favorite films were ‘Hair’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
Alajandro often thought his calling in life was music – to this end he studied communications at Universidad Iberoamericana. During this time he became a radio host at a local rock and roll station, eventually becoming the station director. He was asked to create music for some Mexican films such as Garra de Tigre (1989), while working within this capacity. Getting into the film community by way of music, he realized that he actually wanted to direct films.
In the early 90’s Alajandro started his own production company, Z Films, and began to work on writing, directing and producing, culminating in his first credit – producer and director of Detras del Dinero in 1995. He was heralded as an emerging talent with his work on his next project. He would spend three years writing (and re-writing) three stories which would become the basis for his film, Amores Perros (2000). Alajandro would receive Oscar nominations and critical acclaim for his efforts, all of which set him up for his next movies.
He was returned to the familiar territory of his youth when he worked on his second movie, 21 grams in 2003 – the emotional impact and aftermath of sudden tragedy. The film garnered massive critical acclaim, as well as Oscar nominations for Watts and Del Toro, and stars Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, and Naomi Watts. He followed up 21 grams with Babel, a multi-story tale with heavy emotional content set across the globe. The film would go onto net Alajandro the Golden Globe in 2007 for Best Picture as well seven additional Oscar nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director).
He had the enviable position, once his reputation hit the big time, of being in demand by some of Hollywood’s biggest players and studios. He had, in a word, arrived. The once self-described ‘frustrated musician’ had taken the pivotal events of his youth and their emotional ripples and used them to inform his films as an adult; Just like his father, he managed to re-invent himself along a whole different life path, due to necessity.