All about Mexican Emmanuel Lubezki, Oscar Winner & Nominee

Gabriela Velásquez

Emmanuel Lubezki may be a name you haven’t heard much, but get ready because this talented Mexican is taking Hollywood by storm!

If winning an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award (meaning an Oscar) is already an extraordinary achievement, just imagine how astonishing it would be if someone received this award for a third consecutive year.

This story may be told next February 28, by Mexican Emmanuel “El Chivo” Lubezki, Nominee in the Best Photography category for The Revenant, at the 88th Academy Awards. His first two Oscar’s were awarded in 2014 and 2015 for his work in Gravity and Birdman respectively, and his third might come this year.  

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Image via sirandsport.com

Here are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Emmanuel Lubezki.

A Mexican of Soviet origins

Lubezki is not a name particularly common the land of the Aztecs. He was born in the Mexican capital. However, his roots come from the extinct Soviet Union, where his paternal grandparents were born.

Emmanuel was born into a Jewish family that was very close to the world of cinema. He is the son of Muni Lubezki, a well-known actor and producer, and brother of Alejandro Lubezki, screenwriter, and director.

Photography: a passion discovered at an early age

At the age of ten, Emmanuel’s father gave him a camera, a gift that would forever define his life.

He invested countless amounts of money on photographic film rolls, because from the moment he held the camera in his hands, he photographed everything he found in his way.

Emmanuel Lubezki, Between History and Cinema

Emmanuel Lubezki registered on the National Autonomous University of  Mexico (UNAM) to study History. At the same time, possibly due to the influence of his family, he also registered at the University Center for Film Studies (CUEC), a place he stills attends as A Master Lecturer on Cinematography.

From 1985 to the Limelight

Emmanuel Lubezki began his career working in Mexican cinema and television productions during the mid-1980’s. His debut came in 1985 with the release of “Ejercicio de 20 años” and “Marlena en la pared”. Later, he began working in the US and the film “Twenty Bucks” (1993), opened Hollywood’s doors for him.

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Image via nalip.com

Once his career in Hollywood took off,  he started filming non-stop, mainly as director of photography. He worked in the feature film “Like Water for Chocolate”, a great box office success, that made him the recipient of the Ariel Award.

Five of his films have been Oscar nominees in the Best Cinematography  category: “A Little Princess” (1995), “Sleepy Hollow”  (1999), “The New World” (2005), “Children of  Men” (2006), and “The Tree of Life” (2012).

His first Oscar win came in 2013 for his work in the film Gravity.  In this feature film, Emmanuel Lubezki put into practice an innovative photography technique praised by the Academy: he created a space station, the stars and even the astronaut suits, obtaining the outstanding achievement of generating the sensation of zero gravity.

In 2014, he worked in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s acclaimed film, “Birdman”, and won his second consecutive statuette. This year he is nominated for “The Revenant”, also directed by Iñárritu. On this occasion, Emmanuel Lubezki decided to shoot the film almost entirely with natural light, quite an accomplishment in movie making.

Emmanuel Lubezki is having a great moment. Meanwhile, we patiently wait for February 28, when we’ll finally know if he becomes one the select group of photography directors to win his third consecutive Oscar. We wish him the best of luck.

Personal Information

Name: Emmanuel Lubezki

Date of Birth: April 10, 1964 (51)

Place of Birth: Mexico City

Education: National Autonomous University of  Mexico (UNAM), Center for Film Studies (CUEC)

Occupation: Photography Director