By Tyler Aquilina
February 21, 2019 at 06:26 PM EST
  • Movie

Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has transported audiences to the magical world of Hogwarts, to a dystopian view of the future, and to the reaches of space, but his latest film plunges viewers into a very different realm: his own memory.

With the 91st Academy Awards ceremony almost upon us, Entertainment Weekly has partnered with The Take to bring you a series of videos diving deep into this year’s Oscar contenders. (Check out the first video, on A Star Is Born, here.) This week’s subject is Roma, Cuarón’s deeply heartfelt portrait of and tribute to the housekeeper who helped raise him.

Roma follows this housekeeper, named Cleo in the film (played by Yalitza Aparicio), through her day-to-day life in a meticulous re-creation of the 1970s Mexico City where the Cuarón grew up. As the video explains, the director strove mightily to ensure the film’s accuracy to his recollections, including casting lookalikes for the real people he was depicting. But more than that, he wanted this “cinema of memory” to reflect the experience of life, and to encourage viewers to look at life in a more thoughtful way.

As Cuarón himself puts it: “I hope that the film is not telegraphing or trying to make a statement. It’s like life. Life is a fresco… like a huge mural in which we choose our own experience and we taint everything through the prism of our own experience.”

To do that, though, he needed to capture this experience with a certain objectivity, so the audience could settle into the film’s meditative rhythm and truly live in the world depicted on screen. To see how Cuarón pulled off this delicate balance, check out the video above. Here’s a hint: There’s a reason the movie doesn’t have a lot of close-ups.

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  • Alfonso Cuarón