The Mexican Jew Who Set an Oscar Record
Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki Morgenstern (b. 1964) was born to a Russian-Jewish family in Mexico City. He initially studied history, then switched to film studies and became a cinematographer. He first worked on a film made with a group of 10 friends who pooled together $7000. It brought in enough money to make a second film, which found more success in Mexico, but no profit. His third film brought an invitation to the Toronto International Film Festival, following which Lubezki started getting calls from Hollywood (yet still barely spoke any English). Among his first major productions was a collaboration with his childhood friend and classmate Alfonso Cuaron. The two went on to make 6 films together, winning a handful of Oscars along the way. Lubezki’s work on the 2006 film Children of Men was critically acclaimed for its new cinematic techniques, and got him a fourth Oscar nomination. He finally won an Academy Award in 2013 for Gravity, another trailblazer in 3D cinematography which some have described as “the most technologically impressive film ever” and “the greatest visual achievement in the history of cinema”. (It took over four years of work for Lubezki’s team to make it happen.) He won yet again the following year for Birdman, and took a third Oscar in a row this year for The Revenant. This set a new record, making Lubezki the first cinematographer to win three Oscars in three consecutive years. Among Lubezki’s other highly-praised works are The Tree of Life (starring Brad Pitt) and Ali (starring Will Smith). Alfonso Cuaron has said of Lubezki: “You go to a concert and you are listening to the music… Chivo’s looking at the light. When you’re having dinner with Chivo, he starts moving everything around – he’ll move a candle over here or a light over there – until suddenly the light is just right.”
Words of the Week
The righteous promise little and do a lot; the wicked promise much and don’t do even a little.
– Talmud, Bava Metzia 87a