Guillermo Arriaga, March 2009
March 13, 1958 |
Mexico City, Mexico
|Other names||Guillermo Arriaga Jordán|
|Occupation||Screenwriter, author, director, producer|
|Years active||1991 - present|
Guillermo Arriaga Jordán (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡiˈʎermo aˈrjaɣa]; born 13 March 1958) is a Mexican author, screenwriter, director and producer. Self-defined as “a hunter who works as a writer,” he wrote the screenplay of Amores Perros, received a BAFTA Best Screenplay nomination for 21 Grams, and received the 2005 Cannes Best Screenplay Award for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
Early life 
Arriaga was born in Mexico City. At the age of 13, he lost the sense of smell after a brutal street fight that would later serve as inspiration for some of his work. "Contrary to widespread reports, Arriaga did not come of age in a violent Mexico City neighborhood ("I can't tell you how many times I've changed that on Wikipedia," he says, "only for it to be changed back 15 minutes later"), though he did, in fact, lose his sense of smell at 13 in a street brawl." Before engaging in his writing career, Arriaga tried out a variety of jobs and professions, amongst which were that of boxer, basketball player and professional soccer player. He completed a B.A. in Communications and a M.A. in Psychology at the Ibero-American University.
While teaching at the Universidad Iberoamericana, Arriaga met future film director Alejandro González Iñárritu and decided to make a feature length, multiplot film set in Mexico City. The result was Amores Perros (2000), one of the most heavily praised films in the recent history of Mexican cinema. The film, with its gritty look at the underbelly of Mexican life received an Oscar nomination for "Best Foreign Film" as well as a BAFTA Film Award for "Best Film not in the English Language," the "Critics Week Grand Prize" and "Young Critics Award" at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival as well as many other awards from festivals and societies around the world.
The success of Amores Perros earned Arriaga and Iñárritu an invitation to the U.S. to work on the Universal/Focus feature film 21 Grams, starring Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Watts and del Toro received Academy Award nominations for their performances.
Iñárritu and Arriaga collaborated on a third movie, Babel, to form a trilogy with his first two pictures focusing on the theme of death. However, friction between writer and director led to Iñárritu banning Arriaga from attending the 2006 Cannes screening of Babel. Nevertheless, Inarritu and Arriaga both received Academy Award nominations for their work.
On January 19, 2007, the film adaptation of his book El Búfalo de la Noche directed by Jorge Hernandez Aldana premiered at the Sundance film festival. It features an original score by Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta. The main title sequence for this movie was created by Canadian studio Mucho Motion and One Size from the Netherlands.
On 29 August 2008, The Burning Plain was premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Arriaga wrote the script and pitched it to American producers, who talked to some directors. Arriaga eventually directed the film, starring Charlize Theron, himself.
An award-winning screenwriter, Arriaga has repeatedly stated that he hates being called a "screenwriter" and that he hates screenplays being referred to as such. He claims that he and all other screenwriters are writers, and the title of screenwriter diminishes the work of screenwriters. He now continuously advocates for screenwriters being referred to as "writers" and screenplays being referred to as "Works of Film". However, in a TV interview at KUSI in San Diego on September 10, 2009, he clarified that he did not really mind the English word "screenwriter." It was the word in Spanish which he did not like. The Spanish word most often associated with screenwriters, "guionista", is also used to describe people who write tour guidebooks. He does not think of himself as a guidebook author.
- Un Dulce Olor a Muerte (1999)
- Amores perros (2000) ISBN 0-571-21415-0
- The Hire: Powder Keg (2001)
- 21 Grams (2004) ISBN 0-571-22266-8
- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005); had an acting cameo in the film as a bear hunter
- Babel (2006)
- El Búfalo de la Noche (2007)
- The Burning Plain (2008)
- Escuadrón Guillotina (1991)
- Un Dulce Olor a Muerte (1994) ISBN 958-04-6169-4
- El Búfalo de la Noche (1999) ISBN 0-7432-8666-9
- Night Buffalo (2007), translated by Alan Page ISBN 0-7432-8186-1
- A Sweet Scent of Death (2007), translated by Alan Page ISBN 0-7432-9679-6
- The Guillotine Squad (2007), translated by Alan Page ISBN 0-7432-9681-8