The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that Alejandro G. Inarritu’s virtual reality installation “Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible)” will receive a special Oscar statuette this year, “in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling.”
The award will be presented at the 9th annual Governors Awards on Nov. 11. Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have “opened for us new doors of cinematic perception,” AMPAS president John Bailey said. “Inarritu’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.”
Inarritu won back-to-back best director Oscars for “Birdman” in 2015 and “The Revenant” in 2016. Lubezki received cinematography Oscars for each, as well as for “Gravity” in 2014, making him the only cinematographer to win three Oscars in a row.
The Academy rarely extends special awards. The last time any such accolade was presented was in 1996, when Pixar’s “Toy Story” received a special achievement award from the organization. Only 17 of those have been presented over the years, and there continue to be calls for similar recognition for Andy Serkis and the visual effects artists who have led the way on performance-capture technology.
Also set to be honored at the Academy’s Governors Awards are filmmakers Charles Burnett and Agnes Varda, cinematographer Owen Roizman, and actor Donald Sutherland.
“Carne y Arena” is currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.