Alfonso Cuaron’s highly personal drama Roma received a joyfully teary-eyed response at its official world premiere screening here at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday night. The black-and-white movie which marks the Oscar winning Gravity helmer’s return to the Sala Grande was met by a seven-minute standing ovation that lasted through the credits sequence and was punctuated with cheers for Cuaron’s three lead actresses, Yalitza Aparicio, Nancy Garcia and Marina de Tavira.
The film has been met with five-star reviews after screening for the press on Thursday morning. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw calls it “a heart-rending triumph” for the filmmaker and his “best film so far.”
In what may have been a bittersweet twist, Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Fremaux was in attendance at the screening Thursday night. Roma had been invited to the Cannes competition last May, but Netflix ended up pulling all of its titles from consideration owing to the requirement of a French theatrical release. In the end, Netflix is giving its awards season features a qualifying theatrical run and Roma will have that treatment in the U.S. at least.
Roma is based on recollections from Cuaron’s childhood and certainly appears a likely candidate to be Mexico’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar category this year. It largely centers on Cleo (Aparicio), an indigenous nanny and housekeeper working for a middle class family in the 1970s.
At his press conference on Thursday, Cuaron characterized the experience as an “encounter of the present and a recalled past.”
He also praised his cast of actresses. “This film sees all these women as protagonists. It has been made by all these women and the result is thanks to them.”
Venice jury president and dear Cuaron friend Guillermo del Toro is maintaining objectivity. At the opening press conference here on Wednesday, he said, “I am not a dictator in the jury, I am just the president. I have an important role but it is an important role because I am an adult, I am a professional… There is great agreement among us that it doesn’t matter if a movie comes from Australia or Mexico.”