It was a big night for Roma director Alfonso Cuarón as he won not one, not two but three Oscars at the Academy Awards, garnering trophies for Directing, Cinematography and Foreign Language Film. His movie broke ground for the streaming service with its wins, and it is the first film from Mexico to win the Foreign Language Oscar.
Cuarón stepped on to the dais backstage at the Dolby Theatre with a handful of gold and said this “journey has been a long one” when it comes to his film based on the memories of his childhood in Mexico City. Although it has been an award-season film, he said didn’t make it to add trophies to his shelf.
Cuarón, whose films have always ended up contenders during awards season, admits that out of all of his films this is the one from which he expected the least. “This is not what you call ‘Oscar bait’,” he said. “So I’m thrilled this is happening. Most importantly, audiences are embracing a character who is a domestic character from an indigenous background,” referring to the character of Cleo played by Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio.
He sang her praises, saying choosing her for the role was “completely instinctual” and that she delivered an “emotionally truthful” performance considering it was her first film — and the language barriers.
Cuarón recognizes that this film is huge for representation and inclusion when it comes to storytelling, but barriers remain — specifically for the Latino and Hispanic communities.
“There is so much talk about diversity,” he said. “Some progress has been made, but definitely Hispanic-Americans — especially Chicanos — are badly represented still.”
To that, Cuarón points out that the crew and cast is Mexico and that this film could not be done if it weren’t for Mexico. “This is a Mexican film on every single front,” he said.
He added, “I could not be here if it were not for Mexico.”