LOS ANGELES – Mexico’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the best director Oscar on Sunday for drama “The Revenant” about a fur trapper who survives a bear attack and treks across a desolate landscape in winter.
Iñárritu was the first filmmaker in more than 60 years to win a back-to-back director’s Oscar. Iñárritu won best director last year for “Birdman,” which also won the 2015 best picture Academy Award.
Iñárritu had already won a Golden Globe, a British BAFTA and a Directors Guild award for “The Revenant.”
“I am very lucky to be here tonight, but unfortunately many others haven’t had the same luck,” Iñárritu said on stage.
He quoted a line from his film in which the main character refers to racial prejudice against his mixed-race son.
“What a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and make sure for once and forever that the color of your skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair,” Iñárritu said, as he touched his long hair.
As a Hispanic, he was one of only a handful of minority nominees this year for Academy Awards. The lack of diversity fueled the resurgence of the #OscarsSoWhite furor for a second year.
“The Revenant,” which is inspired by real events, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a 19th century fur trapper mauled by a bear and left for dead by his team. He sets out on a quest for revenge against those who abandoned him.
“The Revenant” was filmed in Canada and Argentina over seven months using only natural light in tough outdoor settings beset by brutally cold weather.
Iñárritu has described “The Revenant” as his homage to the origins of filmmaking because it was shot on location with few special effects.
Leonardo DiCaprio won the award for best actor, and fellow Mexican Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki won the Academy Award for cinematography for the third year in a row.
DiCaprio, 41, had been nominated four times previously for an acting Oscar over a career spanning 25 years. He was the favorite to clinch the Academy Award this year for his grueling portrayal of a fur trapper left for dead in an icy wilderness after being mauled by a bear. Lubezki won last year for Iñárritu’s film “Birdman” and won in 2014 for “Gravity.” He has been nominated eight times in the category.
The director’s previous films include “Biutiful,” “Babel,” “21 Grams” and “Amores Perros.”
Iñárritu left Mexico at a young age to work on a cargo ship, spending time in Europe before returning home to study in Mexico City.