How Alfonso Cuarón became ROMA’s Oscar-nominated cinematographer | TIFF 2019

How Alfonso Cuarón became ROMA’s Oscar-nominated cinematographer | TIFF 2019

Following a special screening of ROMA during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, Academy Award–nominated writer, director, and cinematographer Alfonso Cuarón discussed his choice to shoot digitally in black and white, and why he stepped in when his long-time collaborator Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki became unavailable; and producer Gabriela Rodriguez — the first Latina woman Oscar-nominated for producing — discusses the difficulties inherent in a production shot entirely in black and white instead of colour.

Alfonso Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical ROMA is an immersive, compassionate technical masterwork that, though set in the 1970s, speaks directly to contemporary Mexican society. Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) works as a live-in maid and nanny for an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City’s Roma district. When the family patriarch departs for an unusually protracted business trip, his wife, Sofia (Marina de Tavira), is left at home. While Cleo helps Sofia take care of the children, she is dumped by her self-absorbed boyfriend after he discovers she is pregnant. As both women face the possibility of single motherhood, it’s obvious that their disparate levels of social status will differently impact their possible futures. Shot on 65mm digital black and white, ROMA subtly explores these ethnic and class divisions with a potent sense of emotional intimacy and historical acuteness.

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