“Roma,” Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s first feature film in his native language since the ground-breaking “Y Tu Mama Tambien” in 2002, will represent Mexico in its quest to have an Oscar-nominated movie in 2019.
The film has been submitted by the Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematograficas as Mexico’s entry for the best Foreign-Language Feature at next year’s Academy Awards.
Shot in black-and-white, “Roma” won the Golden Lion award at the recent Venice Film Festival and was received enthusiastically at last week’s Toronto Film Festival.
Produced by Netflix, “Roma” is an autobiographical film about Cuarón’s early upbringing in 1970s Mexico City, seen through the eyes of his housekeeper, Cleo, played by Yalitza Aparicio, a teacher making her acting debut. Also featuring Marina De Tavira and Nancy Garcia, the film documents a year in Cuarón’s life in the middle-class Colonia Roma district. As well as painting a vivid picture of family life, the movie incorporates social and political events of the period, including the infamous Halconazo, the massacre of student demonstrators in Mexico City on June 10, 1971, by a group of elite Mexican army soldiers known as Los Halcones.
While described by some critics as more of an “experience” rather than a plot-driven tale, the film, meticulously shot by Cuarón himself, provides a rich, contemplative look at the often awkward relationship between domestic servants and their employers in Mexico.
“Roma” also breaks the mold for Netflix, which has eschewed its core principles to permit the film to be entered into festival competition by agreeing to limited theatrical distribution and a delay between cinema and streaming release.
According to industry reports, this clause was key for Cuarón coming aboard with Netflix to make his first film since winning Oscars for directing and editing “Gravity” in 2013.
The global release for “Roma” on the Netflix site is scheduled for December 1.