True life story behind Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographical film Roma

True life story behind Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographical film Roma

Alfonso Cuarón’s new film, Roma, is set to come to Netflix on Friday, and for those super keen to get to see the film, they can go to the big screen and take in a viewing of the Mexican director’s masterpiece.

It is a real favourite for those who have been lucky enough to see a sneak preview, with some calling it one of the best films of all time, and a sure-fire hit for the 2019 awards season.

But what is the story behind the film, and does it really come from Alfonso Cuarón’s own life?

The answer is simple: yes.

Cuarón grew up in Mexico City in the 1960s and 70s, to a nuclear physicist father in 1961.

He has two brothers, one who has taken in his father’s footsteps and gone down a scientific route, becoming a biologist, while his other, Carlos, is also a filmmaker.

In Roma, while the family set up is not entirely the same, the level of welath is similar, as Cuarón introduces us to a middle-class family with a nice house, decent car and two maids, Cleo and Adela.

Speaking to Variety , Cuarón has suggested perhaps it was class "guilt" which led him to make Roma, as he too grew up with a nanny, Liboria "Libo" Rodriquez, to twhom the film is dedicated and who made a siginificant impact on Cuarón ‘s life.

He said: "It was probably my own guilt about social dynamics, class dynamics, racial dynamics. I was a white, middle-class, Mexican kid living in this bubble.

"I didn’t have an awareness. I [had] what your parents tell you — that you have to be nice to people who are less privileged than you and all of that — but you’re in your childhood universe.”

Cuarón’s own nanny joined the fmaily when he was just nine months old, and she came from the village of Tepelmeme in the state of Oaxaca, an indigenous Mixtec woman, so her background was a far cry from Cuarón’s cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Cuarón asked Lino a great number of questions while writing Roma, and the now 74-year-old helped him to recount memories from their life so he could write something as authentic as possible.

She said in the same interview: "How do you remember this, Libo? Help me remember and understand.’ Then it started to become weird.

"‘Libo, what did you used to wear? How did you dress?’ Things like that. I never imagined everything I’m living right now, that a film would be based on me.”

In a chat with Vanity Fair , Cuarón said he recreated his childhood home and dynamics to make Cleo even more lifelike, and she said she became part of the family very quickly.

He told the publication: "All of that was to follow the story of the character in the film who’s called Cleo. She was the domestic worker in my home, the nanny, that we end up becoming part of her family, or she becoming part of our family."

Cuarón has even admitted to have searched the same village as Libo’s to find the actress who played her fictionalised self, meeting Yalitza Aparicio in that same place.

Whether the story itself is taken from Cuarón’s background is not entirely known, however the memories and the imagery included is certainly everything he remembered.

Roma comes to Netflix on Friday, and is playing in cinemas nationwide.

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BFI London Film Festival 2018 reviews

  • The Favourite
  • Suspiria
  • Beautiful Boy
  • Roma
  • Wildlife
  • Green Book
  • The Front Runner
  • Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old

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