- Started his career as a production designer for movies and advertisements.
- Founded his own production company Center Stage Productions in 2005.
- Made his directorial debut with the film Masahista (2005), which won the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.
- Tirador (2007) won him the Caligari Film Award at the same festival.
- Received the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for the film Kinatay (2009).
- Competed in the Berlin International Film Festival; the movie submitted was Captive (2012).
- Won the La Navicella Venezia Cinema Award at the Venice Film Festival for his movie Thy Womb (2012).
- Received knighthood from the French government; was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres or Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters and is the first Filipino director to have received this honor.
- Manoro (2006) is a part of Philippine Department of Education's curriculum for Grade 8 students.