AFI Movie Club: ROMA
ROMA, Alfonso Cuarón’s love letter to his homeland of Mexico, was honored with a Special Award at the 2018 AFI AWARDS – recognizing it as “an ode to life, love and loss – a monument to the power of film to inspire empathy across the walls of geography, class and culture.”
AFI Conservatory alum and Audi Fellow Natalie Camou introduces ROMA:
Director Alfonso Cuarón takes you “Behind The Scene” of ROMA in this exclusive AFI video:
Watch AFI’s “Behind the Scene” with ROMA First AD Rene Villarreal:
Movie Trivia about ROMA
DID YOU KNOW? In bringing the deeply personal and intimate story of ROMA to the screen, Alfonso Cuarón wore many hats to ensure that the film would be realized precisely as he’d envisioned. In addition to directing, he also wrote, shot, produced and co-edited ROMA.
DID YOU KNOW? ROMA’s central character of Cleo was based on a real-life nanny – Liboria “Libo” Rodríguez – who helped take care of writer/director Alfonso Cuarón himself as a child. Rodriguez appears in another one of Cuarón’s films, Y TU MAMÁ TABIÉN, in which Cuarón cast her as a nanny. ROMA is dedicated to Rodriguez.
DID YOU KNOW? Alfonso Cuarón was the only member of the crew to see a complete script of the film. Even the cast only saw pages relevant to each day’s scenes – shot in chronological order, to better allow them to respond organically to moments in their characters’ lives.
DID YOU KNOW? Cuarón assembled an exclusively Mexican crew who could contribute their own knowledge and memories to the film. “I really needed people who understood what I was talking about because I wanted everybody to be a resource, either in terms of research of the period or their own memories,” he said.
DID YOU KNOW? The film’s primary location – the home of its main characters – was built as an exact replica of director Alfonso Cuarón’s own childhood home. To achieve complete verisimilitude, Cuarón reached out to family members to retrieve furniture and personal items from the house that were still in the family’s possession. He has said, “there’s an old chair that was in my grandmother’s house. The dining room, the breakfast room, and the living room have a lot of the original furniture. There is a portrait that’s supposed to be Sofia and is actually my mother. Many of the objects in the children’s rooms are things we kept or reproduced for the film. Even Borras the dog is identical to my childhood dog, right down to the name.”
DID YOU KNOW? The doctors and nurses who appear in the climactic hospital scene are actual doctors and nurses – not actors – hired to make the scene feel more authentic.
DID YOU KNOW? ROMA was Yalitza Aparicio’s first acting role. She had been working to be a schoolteacher before deciding to audition for the film after accompanying her sister to a casting call. Aparicio received an Academy Award® nomination for her performance as Cleo – the first indigenous Mexican woman ever to receive that honor.
DID YOU KNOW? The harrowing shot of Cleo entering the water at the end of the film was done in one take and is based on a real moment in Cuarón’s life. His real-life nanny saved him and his sister from the powerful waves when they’d ventured too far into the ocean as children.
DID YOU KNOW? ROMA was presented at AFI FEST 2018 presented by Audi as part of the Audi Special Screenings line-up. Since 2004, AFI has teamed up with Audi to celebrate the art of the moving picture at AFI FEST. The 2020 AFI FEST presented by Audi will be virtual, allowing movie lovers across the country to enjoy the best of the art form. AFI FEST presented by Audi begins on October 22, 2020 – go to Fest.AFI.com for more information.
DID YOU KNOW? ROMA was nominated for 10 Academy Awards® at the 2019 ceremony – winning three Oscars®. Director Alfonso Cuarón made history that evening when he walked away with two of those Oscars® – Best Achievement in Directing and Best Achievement in Cinematography. Cuarón became the first person to win the Oscar® for Best Director for an international film and was the first person to ever win Oscars® for both directing and cinematography for the same film.
-How does ROMA’s presentation in black and white enhance the story? Why do you think Alfonso Cuarón chose to present the film in that way?
-In what ways was Cleo a member of the family, and it was ways was she not? Does that change throughout the story? Why or why not?
-How does Cleo balance or compartmentalize her own life – her hopes, dreams and fears – against her responsibilities to the family?
-How do you view the relationship between Cleo and her family? Does it seem equitable and fair, or reflective of class tensions?
-Cleo is taken to the hospital by her employer and gets medical attention due to her employer knowing the doctor – but the grandmother doesn’t know Cleo’s last name or age. Why was that important for Cuarón to include – and what does it say about their relationship?
-How does Cleo get over the loss that she suffers at the end of the movie? Does she? What does she realize on the beach? Is it a happy ending?
-What are some specific things you notice about the setting and atmosphere of ROMA? How does it capture time and place with such specificity? Does that attention to detail make the film more or less accessible for audiences?
-How would you rate ROMA?
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