The New York Film Festival has gotten out front of the coming onslaught of slate announcements to declare that Alfonso Cuarón’s Spanish-language drama ROMA will be the Centerpiece of the 56th New York Film Festival. The pic will make its New York premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, October 5, 2018. That means ROMA, which was acquired and will be released by Netflix, will make its world premiere elsewhere and the expectation is that will be at Venice, where Cuarón first unveiled his Oscar-winning film Gravity.
Cuarón’s autobiographically inspired film is set in Mexico City in the early ’70s. The logline, per NYFF: We are placed within the physical and emotional terrain of a middle-class family whose center is quietly and unassumingly held by its beloved live-in nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). The cast is uniformly magnificent, but the real star of ROMA is the world itself, fully present and vibrantly alive, from sudden life-changing events to the slightest shifts in mood and atmosphere. Cuarón tells us an epic story of everyday life while also gently sweeping us into a vast cinematic experience, in which time and space breathe and majestically unfold. Shot in breathtaking black and white and featuring a sound design that represents something new in the medium, ROMA is a truly visionary work.
ROMA was produced and financed by Cuarón’s Esperanto and Participant Media. Netflix will launch ROMA globally as well as distribute it theatrically around the world.
ROMA is one of several awards-season films that reportedly could have premiered at Cannes, before Netflix decided not to premiere its films on the Croisette once the festival made them feel unwelcome after rendering them ineligible for competition because they don’t get theatrical releases in France. An anachronistic chronology law that prohibits theatricals from SVOD release for three years doesn’t fit Netflix’s streaming business model. Insiders said that despite those reports, it was always unlikely that ROMA would have premiered at Cannes. Cuarón would have had to rush to get it ready, and why risk a critical beating on a film that isn’t being released until awards season anyway?
Said New York Film Festival director and selection committee chair Kent Jones: “I was absolutely stunned by ROMA from beginning to end — by the craftsmanship and the artistry of everyone involved, by the physical power and gravitational force of the images, by the realization that I was seeing something magical: a story of ongoing life grounded within the immensity and mystery of just being here on this planet. Alfonso Cuarón’s film is a wonder.”
Said Cuarón: “I am honored ROMA has been selected for the Centerpiece slot at this year’s New York Film Festival. NYFF has a longstanding hisótory of celebrating meaningful and compelling filmmaking and it felt right to return to the festival with ROMA — an incredibly personal, illuminating, and transformative project for me.”