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‘Whose film is it anyway? A battle for the I-auteur in the films of Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro G. Iñárritu

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Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter and novelist Guillermo Arriaga worked together on three, highly successful films - Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006). Yet, theirs was a troubled partnership and ended in a public feud. Arriaga stressed his creative primacy in the projects they worked on and downplayed the input of the director, while Iñárritu underplayed Arriaga’s contribution after Amores perros. Finally, during the making of Babel, theses tensions came to a head and their collaboration came to an acrimonious end over irreconcilably different notions of what we might term ‘creative credit’. This well-known collaboration, feud and separation tell a story of creative partnerships, film industry working practices, power plays and media manipulations. This article examines the public statements of the two men and explores their story. It also asks a series of questions that relate to their specific relationship, but also to broader power dynamics between directors and the screenwriters with whom they work when both have auteurist ambitions: what does the Iñárritu/Arriaga dispute reveal about discourses of auteurism and its construction?; What is the role of the screenwriter and his/her access to an auteurist status in the film industry?
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Spanish & Latin American Cinemas
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 21 Jul 2020


  • Whose film is it anyway

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