Arriaga-3-posterJordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA)
Lecture Room
1430 Johnson Lane, UO campus

The Bartolome de las Casas Lecture in Latin American Studies


A lecture by Guillermo Arriaga

Writer and director Guillermo Arriaga discusses the influence of border issues on his work. Arriaga is renowned for his fragmentary, nonlinear narratives that connect characters across national borders, most notably in the “death trilogy” he wrote and Alfonso Inarritu directed: Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel. Arriaga’s The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, directed by Tommy Lee Jones, deals directly with the tensions on the U.S.-Mexican border, a terrain that Arriaga has known well since his childhood. He believes that the border between Mexico and the United States is filled with stories of love and friendship, of violence and cruelty, of hope and desire, and of redemption and criminality. The humanity of these stories can be lost when analysis is done from afar and in the aggregate, rather than from the empathetic position of the storyteller.


Cinema Pacific is proud to welcome the legendary screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga to Portland and Eugene. Arriaga is returning to Oregon, where he filmed The Burning Plain in Portland and Coos Bay in 2008. The film featured Academy Award-winner Jennifer Lawrence in her first starring role, alongside Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. At the Bijou Cinemas and Northwest Film Center, Arriaga will present The Burning Plain and the film he wrote and Tommy Lee Jones directed, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005). While in Oregon, Arriaga will also give the Bartolomé de las Casas Lecture in Latin American Studies at the UO and a public talk at the Oak Hill School.

Guillermo Arriaga is a Mexican screenwriter, author, director, and producer. Before becoming a screenwriter, the Mexico City-native had already made a name for himself as a novelist and college screenwriting professor, but it was his trilogy of film collaborations with director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu that earned him a world of new audiences. Amores Perros (2000), a gritty tale of parents, children, and intertwined lives on the rough streets of Mexico City gained international recognition and is still considered one of the most praised films of Mexican cinema. Arriaga’s fresh, invigorating style of piecing together emotionally gripping stories as intricate, interlocking human puzzles still persists. He continued to write award winning, critically acclaimed screenplays such as 21 Grams (2003), Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), and the Oscar-nominated Babel (2006). His literary roots, boldy complex structures, and examinations of things people fear the most helped raise the bar of what a Hollywood film with A-list actors could accomplish, as well as what producers believed an audience could handle.

Guillermo Arriaga’s visit is cosponsored with the Latin American Studies Program, Oak Hill School, Consulate of Mexico, Oregon Film, the Oregon Humanities Center, UO International Affairs, MeCha, and the Northwest Film Center.

This is part of a larger schedule of events listed below.

  • The Burning Plain: April 16, 7:30 p.m., Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum
  • April 18, 9:00 p.m., Bijou
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: April 17, 7:00 p.m., Bijou
  • “The U.S. – Mexico Border Through the Eyes of a Writer”: April 18, 4:00 p.m., JSMA, Free
  • “On Writing and Directing”: April 19, 7:00 p.m., Oak Hill School, Free