What do you do after becoming the first filmmaker to win back-to-back Best Director Oscars in 65 years? You make a virtual reality movie, of course. In yet another example of the growing VR market, it was announced today that Birdman and The Revenant director Alejandro G. Iñárritu is beginning work on an experimental short virtual reality film to be produced and financed by Legendary Entertainment. Iñárritu will be working with ILMxLAB, which is Lucasfilm’s new VR department, and he’ll be collaborating with one of the best cinematographers working today: Emmanuel Lubezki.
The subject matter of this VR short film? Immigration:
The immersive virtual reality piece will explore the intense and excruciating experience of a group of immigrants and refugees crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.
Lubezki scored a hat trick at the Oscars by winning the Best Cinematography award three years in a row for his work on Gravity, Birdman, and The Revenant, and his career is chock full of stunning, ambitious work like Children of Men, The Tree of Life, and Sleepy Hollow.
It’s fascinating that after the grueling process of making Birdman and The Revenant back to back, Iñárritu is diving into VR territory. It’s certainly a growing market, with other filmmakers like Michael Bay creating VR content of their own, and Iñárritu brings serious prestige to the format.
Iñárritu hasn’t yet settled on a new feature film project, but Lubezki is gearing up to reunite with Gravity and Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron on an untitled 70s-set film that takes place in Mexico. It’s a return to a project of a smaller scale, and indeed it’s nice to see that Iñárritu, Cuaron, and Guillermo del Toro have kept a close bond over the years after first meeting in film school in Mexico. They’ve gone on to big, grand projects together and are now simultaneously somewhat going back to their roots with smaller scale stories.
It’s unclear when or how Iñárritu’s VR film will be released, but it’ll no doubt be of note.