Roma Press Conference with Alfonso CuarónBy: Juan Roilan Salgado Z.
At a press conference, Daniela Michel, founder and general director of the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM), welcomed the cast of Roma, consisting of Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Nancy Garcia and Fernando Grediaga, and the director of the movie, Alfonso Cuarón.
“We are really excited because this film is going to go down in the history of cinema, so it is a historic moment for this festival to be able to present a masterpiece like Roma,” said Daniela Michel at the Teatro Ocampo in the city of Morelia.
Alfonso Cuarón shared the way in which he conceived his new film with the press, and what was his particular process of realization for the team, the cast and personally.
In this regard, Marina de Tavira commented: “We did not know the script, it existed, it was perfectly written, but it was not given to the actors and I understand that it was the case with everyone else in the team. We filmed in absolute continuity, that is, the day one is the day one in the film and so on until the end, and this was wonderful, it was truly having the experience of the characters’ life as we discovered life day by day, so did characters. For me it was unique and extraordinary, and I think it even made me change many of the things I understand as an actress.”
Yalitza Aparicio, who plays the character of Cleo –inspired in Alfonso’s nanny, Libo. “Personally, not having a script helped me, I was just living the movie as if it were my own life, you don’t really know what’s going to happen next day, you’re surprised at every moment,” she added.
“It really was them, because I never gave instructions in a group, I only gave indications individually to each one and it was all contradictory information, in such a way that they did not have a safe ground to step on, where they had to be reacting in the moment and that’s what the actors were doing, that’s what was wonderful,” the filmmaker added.
On the formal aspect of the film and why it was filmed in black and white, Alfonso commented: “I knew that it couldn’t be a nostalgic black and white, it had to be a black and white of the present looking towards the past; that’s why we decided to shoot in 65 millimeters, in digital format, with the best possible resolution, no grain, with an incredible dynamic range; but it is a very different photograph from the black and white photography of yesteryear. The important thing was to make a film that has its feet well planted in the present to see the past.”
As for the recreation of Mexico City in the seventies, Cuarón talked about the Hollywood tools he could use to portray, in a plausible way, the essence of that era. “Since the idea of Roma was manifested, I had the certainty that I was going to use these tools and I liked the idea because in Mexican cinema, because of resources, there has never been a possibility of using these tools in the context of national reality in a Mexican movie. I had the great fortune of working with Eugenio Caballero who is a great production designer, but who also has experience working with visual effects, so communication was very easy because we knew perfectly what we could do and where we could push the mission to see places that no longer exist.”
He mentioned that it was the same treatment for the sound and image production because he’s never done “a film with as much information in its archives, because Roma is the biggest movie that Dolby Atmos has done, in a similar way that the work of image post-production in Technicolor, since it has also been one of the longest films ever made in terms of image production, but I was interested in those tools. Not only to make them grow, but to use them in a Mexican film,” he concluded.
Roma is Alfonso Cuarón’s most personal project to date. It narrates a turbulent year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the 1970s. Cuarón was inspired by the women of his childhood to produce an artistic ode in honor of the matriarchy that defined his life. Roma is a vivid portrayal of domestic conflict and social hierarchy in the midst of political turmoil. It follows a young Mixtec domestic worker, Cleo, and her colleague, Adela, also a Mixtec, who work for a small family in la Roma, a middle-class neighborhood.
Sofia has four children and manages to cover expenses during her husband’s prolonged absence; Cleo receives devastating news that threaten to distract her from caring for Sofia’s children, who she loves as if they were her own. Cleo and Sofia try to build a bond of love and solidarity in a context of social hierarchy in which the relationship between class and race is corrupt. At the same time, they silently fight with the changes that disrupt the family home in a country that is experiencing a confrontation between the army that’s supported by the State and student protesters.
Filmed in a luminous black and white, Roma is an intimate, devastating and ultimately optimistic portrait of the efforts, big and small, a family makes to maintain its balance in moments of personal, social and political conflict.