What's 'Roma' About? 4 Facts You Should Know About Netflix's Oscar-Nominated Film
Over the last few years, streaming services have slowly creeped their way into more and more of our lives, especially with the increased production of series and films directly from streamers. The latest streamer coup has come in the form of Roma, which has earned Netflix its very first Oscar Nomination for Best Picture. But what's Roma about? It's a small black-and-white film, but it's got a big story behind it.
Roma is actually nominated for a grand total of 10 Oscars, which makes it tied with The Favourite for the most nominations this year. Among those noms are ones for Best Director and Best Screenplay for director and writer Alfonso Cuarón. The movie is deeply personal to Cuarón, who based much of its story on his own personal experiences growing up in Mexico in the 1970s. He told IndieWire:
Ninety percent of the scenes represented in the film are scenes taken out of my memory. Sometimes directly, sometimes a bit more obliquely. It’s about a moment of time that shaped me, but also a moment of time that shaped a country. It was the beginning of a long transition in Mexico.
The semi-autobiographical film tells the story of two women in 1970s Mexico as their lives intersect. Read on for four more facts about Roma.
1It's A Female-Focused Story
According to Variety, Cuarón wanted to make a movie that would honor the housekeeper that he grew up with as a child in Roma, Mexico. So, Roma focuses on a maid named Cleo who lives in the home of her employer Sofia. Both women have strained relationships with men; Cleo's boyfriend leaves her and Sofia's husband is rarely home. But, as the women's connection to the men in their lives weakens, the bond they share with each other grows.
2It's Not Cuarón's First Movie Based On His Life
[Jorge Luis] Borges talks about how memory is an opaque, shattered mirror, but I see it more as a crack in the wall. The crack is whatever pain happened in the past. We tend to put several coats of paint over it, trying to cover that crack. But it’s still there.
With Roma, Cuarón looks at his childhood as a middle-class boy in Mexico, but the Children of Men and Gravity director has used film to capture a piece of his own past before. His 2001 movie Y Tu Mamá También is a coming-of-age road trip movie based on Cuarón's own life as a teenager in Mexico.
3There Was An Extensive Search For The Movie's Stars
Cuarón spent months and months searching for the actors to play Cleo and Sofia because he had a a very specific vision for them. He told ScreenDaily:
The thing with every single character was that they are people I know very well. I wanted the actors to physically look as much like the real people as possible. But not only look like them, I wanted them to have the same qualities.
Eventually he found his Cleo in a woman who had never even acted before. Yalitza Aparicio was in the middle of training to be a teacher when her sister convinced her to attend an open call for Roma. Cuarón was struck by how natural she was, and even cast her real-life best friend to play Cleo's best friend so that Aparicio would feel more comfortable on screen. Marina de Tavira plays Sofia, and while she's a renowned theatre actor in Mexico, she is fairly new to American audiences.
4The Movie Is Changing the Way Netflix Shows Its Movies
Roma has been streaming on Netflix since November, but unlike many other Netflix original movies, Roma has also gotten a theatrical release. By playing the movie in theaters, Netflix made sure that it was eligible for film's most prestigious awards, and the move definitely paid off. You can still catch the 10-time-Oscar nominated movie on Netflix or in a theater near you.