Tuesday night the Dallas Film Society awarded groundbreaking writer/director Guillermo Arriaga the Star Award. The amazing event started with an afternoon screening of The Burning Plain and was followed by the Star Award event at the lovely Latino Cultural Center.
Tuesday showcased, in conjunction with the Mexican Consulate of Dallas’ yearlong celebration of the Mexican Bicentennial, the DALLAS Film Society presenting an all-day Mexican film event. The night came together around Guillermo’s award reception.
Guillermo has built an amazing resume that includes Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Babel and the Burning Plain. Just before Guillermo was given his Star Award we watched a thirty minute compilation of some of his more memorable scenes. One of the scenes that seems to be repeatedly played when Guillermo is honored is from the Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. I think the words alone resonate the power of the scene.
Guillermo’s words are his strongest weapon. He’s utilized his own history, family, experiences and imagination to bring to life powerful films about the interactions of mankind. He tells stories of people struggling through realistic hardships and always seems to pull something magical out of scenes we’d least expect. His non-linear writing style has captivated and impressed the film world. In his relatively short career he’s worked with the industry’s best. Actors such as Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts, Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchet and Brad Pitt all have graced his films.
Jennifer Lawrence, Joaquim de Almeida, Charlize Theron and Guillermo
Tommie Lee Jones not only starred but directed The Three Burials film that conquered Cannes Film Festival as Guillermo went home with Best Screenplay Award.
Over the years Guillermo has racked up numerous awards and has been nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Awards.
Since last October the North Texas area has been blessed by Guillermo and his family. The University of North Texas (Mark and I’s ALMA MATER!) honored Guillermo with its first artist-in-residence at the university’s new Institute for the Advancement of the Arts, which is housed in UNT on the Square. Guillermo and his family have been living in the Denton area and he’s embraced the faculty, students and town. I’ve personally now seen Guillermo on 8 occasions over the last three years. Whether he is doing a Q & A, a one-on-one interview, lecture, or Award acceptance he always is original. He loves to tell stories and its always felt like he goes out of his way to tell something fun and interesting. Tuesday night saw an energetic, funny and awe-inspiring Guillermo.
Guillermo doesn’t shy away from talking about political issues or hot button issues, instead he is honest and enlightening.
To further his point Guillermo told us two stories.
Guillermo was asked about his unique style of writing and he went into great details of how he works.
On the numerous occasions that I’ve seen Guillermo speak the subject of religion and god has always been brought up. His films seem to have a spiritual element to there themes. A man asked Guillermo about whether or not that power of spirit is intentional. His response was extremely captivating and unique.
Guillermo was talking about Czech writer Milan Kundera. He went on to explain how those heavy characters are in his stories.
Guillermo did touch on his own belief system and how it has been applied in his writing as well.
Guillermo was asked about the directors and writers he likes. I think his tale of writer/director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt and Sideways) was really interesting.
Early in a Q & A during the screening of the Burning Plain Guillermo touched on what he has coming up.
At the Star Award event Guillermo’s dear friend and director Simon Bross gave a wonderfully funny introduction. The intriguing thing that Guillermo talked about at the event was what Simon and him were doing for the upcoming WORLD CUP!!!
Guillermo went on and talked about becoming a producer and also about a “secret” project.
Being a UNT grad and having seen Guillermo on many events I have to admit how huge of a fan I really am. I’ve watched all of his films and read all the books that have been translated. I implore you to get to know his catalog if you haven’t already. One of the things Guillermo talked about during the Star Award event was his extended family. He is married and has two children, but over the years he’s built a healthy sized entourage. People like Simon Bross have become extended members of his family. He talked about truly letting those people into his world. He’s added a few North Texas faculty members to his entourage and the more time he spends in Texas the more friends he’ll keep adding. Now I have to admit something, I’m usually not afraid of anyone (as long as I have a recorder on me). The great neutralizer has always been the recorder. I’ve used it to meet Charlize Theron (a 10 even with a severe cold), Robert DeNiro (check out my tale in the archive), Morgan Freeman, and Sam Rockwall (my favorite picture with a “star”), but Guillermo Arriaga is one of those people that I get goosebumps about. Writers have a soft spot in my heart. I love writers like Denis Johnson and Douglas Coupland and I guess its there talent in writing that causes such admiration. For me Guillermo Arriaga is simply the most innovative writer we have right now in film. His films never bore. They always give a fulfilling look at the human condition and leave you discussing the themes in his work. I mean who has written a scene where an old blind man asks another man to shoot him. I guess what i’m trying to say is this – I have a “list” (bucket if you will) and on it there is simply put = “Become a member of Guillermo Arriaga’s extended family”. I won’t tell you what number on the list that line is but I will say its below the number one thing on the list. That #1 thing is “to take over the world” (Pinky and the Brain are a huge influence on us at PSD). So don’t take my extended family line to mean I want to stalk Guillermo. Instead take it to mean that everyone wishes to know great people. Guillermo Arriaga is a great person and his work is changing the way we look at the narrative structure. Here’s to having Guillermo be an honorary guest at the Dallas International Film Festival every year! I’m going to leave you with a quote Guillermo gave to USA Today back when Babel was first released.
“The written word has more weight than the spoken word. Once you have written it down, it can’t be denied.”