Mexican Director/Screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga 5 Best Films - Raindance

Guillermo Arriaga, is known for his multi-layered and non-linear narrative. You can book here for our exclusive masterclass with the Oscar nominated screenwriter this Summer.

When asked if he was worried his stories were too complex, Arriaga answered:  “That doesn’t worry me … Audiences are much more intelligent than we think. I think they’re beyond the capabilities of the film-maker, they’re in fact more sophisticated and intelligent than we are.

The first three films on our list are collaborations between him and and Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Amores Perros (2001) (Writer)

‘Amores Perros’ is a  Spanish expression meaning a very tough and intense love. The drama thriller follows three stories in Mexico City that converge around a car accident. The first story entitled “Octavio and Susana” is a story set in the Mexican lower classes. Octavio is in love with his brother’s wife and tries to earn enough money to leave the city with her by engaging his dog in wild dogfights. The second story, “Daniel and Valeria” involves two figures of the jet set. Daniel has left his wife to live with the top-model Valeria. But she soon becomes a crippled after a car accident and she spends most of her time looking for her dog that has disappeared in the basement of her building. The third story “El Chivo and Maru” is of a man who’s left his family 20 years ago to become a guerillero. Released from jail, he’s become an alcoholic bum who takes in stray dogs. From time to time, he accepts to kill for money and waits for the right moment to see his only daughter.

The film received almost universal critical acclaim for its original vision, cinematic style, and was responsible for putting Mexican cinema on the map. It won Critic’s Week Grand Prize at Cannes, was nominated for an Oscar and won the BAFTA for best foreign feature.

21 Grams (2003) (Writer)

A group of troubled people find that they are linked in unpredictable ways. Paul Rivers (Sean Penn) is an academic dealing with a terminal heart condition, but his life is changed by a car crash that seems unrelated to his ailment. The traffic accident, involving ex-con Jack Jordan (Benicio Del Toro) and the husband of Cristina Peck (Naomi Watts), is one that ruins lives but ultimately also resurrects them.

This second film was also widely acclaimed and nominated for two Oscars and five BAFTAs including Best Screenplay.

Babel (2006) (Writer)

In the middle of the Moroccan desert, a gun is fired. This triggers a series of events involving an American couple, Richard and Susan, who are vacationing in Morocco trying to sort out their marital difficulties. But then, she’s shot by two local boys fiddling around with their father’s new rifle. As Richard tries to get help with much difficulty, the couple’s Mexican nanny takes their kids to Mexico for her son’s wedding. Meanwhile, in Japan, a deaf schoolgirl, Chieko, tries to overcome the death of her mother and her own sexual frustration.

It was nominated for both an Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Screenplay and won three awards at Cannes and was nominated for the Palmes d’Or.

Following this film Iñárritu and Arriaga had a falling out. Arriaga was banned from Babel’s screening at Cannes.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

For this last film Arriaga collaborated with American director, Tommy Lee Jones.

An American-Mexican neo-western film set in Texas near the Mexican border. Border patrolman Mike Norton mistakenly kills the Mexican cowboy Melquiades Estrada and buries him in the desert, where he is found one week later. His best friend, Pete Perkins, wishes to bury Melquiades in his hometown Jimenez. But as he is not a  relative, and his body is reburied in the local cemetery. Pete kidnaps the killer, Mike and forces him to dig the grave and bring the body to Melquiades’s family in Mexico.

It won Best Actor and Best Screenplay at Cannes and was nominated for a Palme d’Or.

The Burning Plain (2008) (Director and Writer)

For his next Arriaga casts himself as both writer and director.

Another multi-tiered non-linear narrative typical of Arriaga’s style following the story of several different people separated by time and space. Sylvia, a woman in Oregon who must undertake an emotional odyssey to rid herself of her past; Mariana and Santiago, two teenagers trying to piece together the shattered lives of their parents in a New Mexico border town; Maria, a little girl who goes on a border-crossing voyage to help her parents find redemption, forgiveness, and love; and Gina and Nick, a couple who must deal with an intense and clandestine affair.

The film received mixed reviews, but was still nominated for several awards and won  and award at Venice Film Festival. We are excited to announce that Guillermo Arriaga will be joining us at Raindance to teach a two day intense masterclass on “Non-Linear, Lineara and Multiple Storylines”. If you are interested, follow this link –

.Guilloermo Arriga MAsterclass