Alfonso Cuaròn, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu are three names that might come to mind when thinking of contemporary Latin auteurs. But Guillermo Arriaga’s growing reputation as one of the most intelligent screenwriters in the business has secured him a place on this list as well.A regular collaborator with Iñárritu (he wrote the screenplays for Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros), the Mexico City native also won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes in 2005 for Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Throughout his written work (Arriaga is also an accomplished novelist), themes of death and fate dominate the story, and the screenwriter is a self-proclaimed “thanatic” (i.e., obsessed with death) who draws heavily on the dense language of Shakespeare and, more recently, William Faulkner.

Arriaga’s most recent project, Babel (which won Iñárritu a Best Director award at Cannes), returns to the theme of connectivity by following the stories of several families living in Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico and Japan. As in 21 Grams, the lives of the characters gradually intertwine, leading to a poignant commentary on the barriers established by language and culture. With his next film, Jorge Hernandez Aldana’s The Night Buffalo, in post-production and The Buyer’s Club recently announced with director Marc Forster attached, audiences can look forward to more difficult and riveting work from one of the rising stars of modern screenwriting.