Best Director Oscar contender Alfonso Cuarón on his non-traditional process for Roma
On Feb. 24, winners will be crowned at the 91st Academy Awards. But before the red carpet is rolled out and envelopes are opened, Entertainment Weekly has inside intel on the 2019 nominees. Keep checking back at EW.com this week for spotlights on contenders in all the major categories.
Director of: Roma
Oscar past: 6 Noms, 2 Wins
Alfonso Cuarón adopted a non-traditional method for filming Roma, a screenplay he had written based on his childhood memories: Instead of giving his cast and crew the entire script, he dispensed dialogue to his actors day by day — or on certain days, no dialogue at all. “Sometimes I would tell them what to say or [I’d] just create a complete alien dynamic with other groups of actors,” Cuarón tells EW.
“Creating this kind of tension between different people, they could not really predict what the other people were going to say.” It’s this exercise in harnessing authentic performances that grounds Cuarón’s dissection of class and gender constructs within the nostalgic story of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an indigenous Mexican housekeeper working for a middle-class family. “The only way to approach memories is from the standpoint of the present,” he says. “It informs your concerns and the core of understanding that you have about life and existence.”
On Tuesday, after Roma received 10 nominations, Cuarón said in a statement, “Thank you to the Academy for recognizing Roma across these categories. Human experience is one in the same, and it’s so gratifying that a black and white film about life in Mexico is being celebrated around the world. We are living a great moment in cinema where diversity is embraced by audiences. This kind of visibility pushes our industry forward and creates more opportunity for new voices and perspectives to emerge. It is a testament of how late we’re arriving to this moment, in which stories of the invisible among us — the domestic workers and indigenous women — are put at the center of our narratives. I share this with my cast, crew, producers, and most importantly, with my family and Mexico.”