Emmanuel Lubezki

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Emmanuel Lubezki
Emmanuel Lubezki Morgenstern

November 30, 1964 (1964-11-30) (age 56)
Mexico City, Mexico
Other namesChivo
Alma mater National Autonomous University of Mexico
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active1983–present
OrganizationMexican Society of Cinematographers
American Society of Cinematographers
Awards Full list

Emmanuel Lubezki Morgenstern (Spanish pronunciation:  [emaˈnwel luˈβeski] ; born November 30, 1964) is a Mexican cinematographer. [1] He sometimes goes by the nickname Chivo, which means "goat" in Spanish. [2] [3] Lubezki has worked with many acclaimed directors, including Mike Nichols, Tim Burton, Michael Mann, Joel and Ethan Coen, and frequent collaborators Terrence Malick, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. [4]


Lubezki is known for groundbreaking uses of natural lighting and continuous uninterrupted shots in cinematography, often utilizing a Steadicam, a 3-axis gimbal, or hand-held camera to orchestrate fluid, uninterrupted camera movements during particularly significant scenes. Lubezki is a member of both the Mexican Society of Cinematographers and the American Society of Cinematographers. His work has been praised by audiences and critics alike, which earned him multiple awards, including eight Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography. He won in this category three times, becoming the first person to do so in three consecutive years, for Gravity (2013), Birdman (2014), and The Revenant (2015).

In 2020, he shot and narrated a short film for Apple displaying the camera capabilities of the iPhone 12 Pro, the first device ever to capture, edit and playback in Dolby Vision. [5]

Early life

Lubezki was born to a Jewish family in Mexico City, Mexico. [4] [6] [7] His father was actor and producer Muni Lubezki. [8] His paternal grandfather is Lithuanian Jewish while his grandmother is also Jewish, from Russia. [9] Lubezki studied film at Mexico's Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos (CUEC), where he met Alfonso Cuarón. [4]


Lubezki began his career in Mexican film and television productions in the late 1980s. His first international production was the 1993 independent film Twenty Bucks , which followed the journey of a single twenty-dollar bill.

Lubezki is a frequent collaborator with fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. The two have been friends since they were teenagers and attended the same film school [10] at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. [2] Together they have worked on six motion pictures: Sólo Con Tu Pareja , A Little Princess , Great Expectations , Y Tu Mamá También , Children of Men , and Gravity . His work with Cuarón on Children of Men (2006) has received universal acclaim. [11] The film utilized a number of new technologies and distinctive techniques. The "roadside ambush" scene was shot in one extended take utilizing a special camera rig invented by Doggicam systems, developed from the company's Power Slide system. [12] For the scene, a vehicle was modified to enable seats to tilt and lower actors out of the way of the camera. The windshield of the car was designed to tilt out of the way to allow camera movement in and out through the front windscreen. A crew of four, including Lubezki, rode on the roof. Children of Men also features a seven-and-a-half-minute battle sequence composed of roughly five seamless edits.

Lubezki won his first Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Cuarón's Gravity , a thriller set in outer space. [13] [14] The film was praised for the way it combined two shots through digital backgrounds of space to create the illusion of scenes done in a single shot. [15] Lubezki won his second Academy Award for Best Cinematography in the following year for his work on Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman . The film used a similar technique from Gravity, being very unusual in the way the entire movie was shot so as to appear to be photographed in one continuous take. [16] Lubezki won the award again in 2015 for Iñárritu's The Revenant , becoming a milestone for his third consecutive win and for being the first cinematographer to do so. [17] The film was shot entirely in the wilderness during a cold season, minimizing the amount of CGI and using only natural lighting. It was an extremely difficult process that required a limited amount of time to shoot each scene, which delayed the production, causing budget overruns and changes of locations for proper settings. However, The Revenant earned over $500 million at the box office and received critical acclaim, with much praise for the film's atmospheric tone and realism.

Lubezki won the Royal Photographic Society Lumière Award for major achievement in cinematography, video or animation in 2016.


Dagger-14-plain.pngDenotes films that have not yet been released


1990Bandidos Luis Estrada
1991 Sólo con Tu Pareja Alfonso Cuarón 1st collaboration with Cuarón
1992 Like Water for Chocolate Alfonso Arau Co-cinematographer with Steven Bernstein
The Harvest David Marconi 1st American film
1993 Miroslava Alejandro Pelayo
Twenty Bucks Keva Rosenfeld
1994Ámbar Luis Estrada
Reality Bites Ben Stiller
1995 A Little Princess Alfonso Cuarón
A Walk in the Clouds Alfonso Arau
1996 The Birdcage Mike Nichols
1998 Great Expectations Alfonso Cuarón
Meet Joe Black Martin Brest
1999 Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton
2000 Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Rodrigo García
2001 Y Tu Mamá También Alfonso Cuarón
Ali Michael Mann
2003 The Cat in the Hat Bo Welch
2004 The Assassination of Richard Nixon Niels Mueller Also associate producer
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Brad Silberling
2005 The New World Terrence Malick 1st collaboration with Malick
2006 Children of Men Alfonso Cuarón
2008 Burn After Reading Joel and Ethan Coen
2011 The Tree of Life Terrence Malick
2012 To the Wonder
2013 Gravity Alfonso Cuarón1st Academy Award win
2014 Birdman Alejandro González Iñárritu 1st collaboration with Iñárritu
2nd Academy Award win
2015 Last Days in the Desert Rodrigo García
Knight of Cups Terrence Malick
The Revenant Alejandro González Iñárritu3rd Academy Award win
2017 Song to Song Terrence Malick
TBA Canterbury Glass [18] David O. Russell Filming

Short films

1983Vengeance Is Mine Alfonso Cuarón
Carlos Marcovich
1985Sera por eso que la quiero tantoCarlos Marcovich
1988Los buzos diamantistasMarcela Couturier
1990La muchachaDorotea Guerra
2002From Mesmer, with Love or Tea for TwoAlejandro Lubezki
Salvador Aguirre
2007Anna Alejandro González Iñárritu Segment of To Each His Own Cinema
2010 Write the Future
2017 Flesh and Sand
2021 Next to Normal


1989-90 La hora marcada 8 episodes
1990El motel de la muerteTV movie
1993 Fallen Angels 2 episodes

CableACE Award for Direction of Photography in a Series

2010 Dick Tracy Special TV special
2018 Dior: Joy TV advertisement

Awards and nominations

See also

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