Thanks to a hilarious and enlightening Tribeca Film Festival panel, we recently learned that — in addition to being the world’s greatest living cinematographer — Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki is actually a frustrated still photographer. Turns out it was a fortuitous strike at Mexico’s national art school that segued Chivo into motion pictures in a sort of backup plan gone horribly right, and three consecutive Oscars later we can only assume he’s given up his dreams of being the next Manuel Álvarez Bravo.
Maybe that frustrated plan A explains why Lubezki has emerged as a dedicated Instagrammer, racking up over 300,000 followers who “ooh” and “ahh” at each impeccably framed and sensitively executed thumbnail he publishes on the platform. It also has the added plus of helping producers get some early promotion on projects in which Chivo is involved — as was the case on his early The Revenant set photos, and more recently for his sweeping panorama’s captured on location for Rodrigo García’s upcoming biblical feature Last Days.
But something curious has begun to crop up on Lubezki’s feed amidst the arid landscapes and New Testament wardrobe that characterize Last Days’ Southern California desert shoot. Revelers with blue beards, blonde buns, flower dresses, and butterfly wings grin and dance about, flanked by distant silhouettes of desert palms. Perhaps Chivo thought that by giving this photographic series the conspicuously ethnographic title “Rituals and Celebrations,” he might throw us off his trail. Perhaps — some might think — this is some ongoing study in modern ecstatic festivity, a 21st-century bacchanalia. But we are 99% sure that Chivo was actually just gettin’ freaky at this year’s edition of Coachella, which took over the Coachella Valley outside of Indio, California in April.
But hey, that doesn’t make the photos any less masterful. Any man who could juggle a dixie cup in one hand and a DSLR in the other without sacrificing the quality of his photos, probably deserves another Oscar.