“The first time that I had the conscious impulse to do this film actually was 12 years ago,” director Alfonso Cuaron revealed at the New York Film Festival, where his latest film “Roma” was the Centerpiece selection. Cuaron intended for the film to be his followup to the dystopian sci-fi thriller “Children of Men” (2006). It didn’t work out then, but looking back he thinks it was for the best that he had to wait to make it. “I don’t think that I had the tools. It wasn’t so much about the resources as the emotional tools for this film.” Watch him discuss “Roma” along with his lead actors Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira above.
“Roma” is set in the early 1970s and is inspired by Cuaron’s own childhood and the experiences of his family’s maid. In the film that maid is Cleo (Aparicio, in her acting debut), whose life is complicated by class division, political unrest and an unplanned pregnancy. The fact that the film is based on Cuaron’s own life is what made it such a challenging effort for the filmmaker. He admits, “I probably didn’t have the confidence then in terms of letting go because a lot of this process for all of us was about letting go and not having safety nets.” Working in such an unguarded way was difficult, especially when “approaching some stuff of my personal life from people very close to me.”
The black-and-white film has been a hit on the festival circuit thus far. It will be released in limited theaters and on Netflix on December 14. And it’s Mexico’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Mexico has never won that award despite eight past attempts, which makes it the second most nominated nation without a win, behind Israel with 10 bids. This deeply personal story from one of Mexico’s most successful filmmakers could end that drought.
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