The Academy’s Board of Governors has announced it will be giving a Special Award Oscar to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s virtual reality installation “CARNE y ARENA.” The award is being given “in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling.” Only 18 Special Award Oscars have been handed out in the 90-year history of the Academy Awards. The last time the honor was given out was 22 years ago when John Lasseter was recognized for making the first CGI-animated feature with “Toy Story.”
“CARNE y ARENA” is an installation that allows individuals to experience the refugee crisis occurring at the U.S.-Mexican border through the eyes of the refugees’ own journeys. Iñárritu collaborated with his longtime partner Emmanuel Lubezki on the project, which first debuted to rave reviews at Cannes and is now on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Fondazione Prada in Milan, and Tlatelolco Cultural Center in Mexico City.
“The Governors of the Academy are proud to present a special Oscar to ‘CARNE y ARENA,’ in which Alejandro Iñárritu and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have opened for us new doors of cinematic perception,” said Academy President John Bailey in an official statement. “Iñárritu’s multimedia art and cinema experience is a deeply emotional and physically immersive venture into the world of migrants crossing the desert of the American southwest in early dawn light. More than even a creative breakthrough in the still emerging form of virtual reality, it viscerally connects us to the hot-button political and social realities of the U.S.-Mexico border.”
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The Oscar will be presented to “CARNE y ARENA” at the Academy’s 9th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 11.