According to El Universal the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on October 27 they have decided to award a special Oscar to Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu and Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for “Carne y Arena” (Flesh and Sand), a project that delves into the territory of virtual reality (VR).
The Academy said they decided to present the award to recognize a “visionary and powerful experience in storytelling.”
It seems this is the first special Oscar awarded since the one granted to “Toy Story” in 1996.
According to a statement by John Bailey, president of the Academy, Iñárritu and Lubezki “opened for us new doors of cinematic perception.”
After working previously in the “Revenant” (2015) and “Birdman” (2014), Iñárritu and Lubezki partnered once more but this time to build an artistic VR experience where they place the spectator at the heart of the realities of the illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
For seven minutes, the spectator becomes part of the drama of immigration, which is brought to life based on the life stories of several immigrants Iñárritu gathered.
The filmmaker presented “Carne y Arena” in the latest edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
Those who enter the VR installation must do so barefooted since the ground is covered in sand and this physical contact allows for an easier transition to a reality which is far-removed for many.
“Virtual reality is everything cinema isn’t,” said Iñárritu during a restricted press conference in Cannes, “It’s the birth of a completely different model. Maybe an eighth art,” he claimed.
The Academy will present the statuettes to Iñárritu and Lubezki during the gala celebration of the Honorary Awards November 11, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Also set to be honored during this ceremony are the filmmakers Agnès Varda and Charles Burnett, actor Donald Sutherland, and cinematographer Owen Roizman.
“Carne y Arena” is currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in the United States, at the Parada Foundation in Milan, and at the Cultural Center Tlatelolco in México.