Oscars 2019: Roma becomes first Mexican film to win Best Foreign Film; Alfonso Cuaron bags Best Cinematography

Press Trust of India

Feb 25, 2019 08:56:09 IST

It was a ‘Viva Mexico’ moment at Oscars 2019 as Roma became the first feature from the country to receive the Oscar in the best foreign language film category.

 Oscars 2019: Roma becomes first Mexican film to win Best Foreign Film; Alfonso Cuaron bags Best Cinematography

A still from Roma. YouTube

The moving black-and-white masterpiece by Alfonso Cuaron was being bid as a sure-shot winner in the segment, which also saw Cold War (Poland), Shoplifters (Japan), Never Look Away (Germany) and Capernaum (Lebanon) as fitting fellow nominees.

Set in 1970s Mexico’s Colonia Roma, the Netflix film revolves around the life of a middle-class family's live-in maid, Cleo. Played by first-time actor and best actress nominee Yalitza Aparacio, Cleo’s character was based on the Cuaron’s real-life nanny and maid Liboria “Libo” Rodríguez, to whom he has also dedicated the film.

This was the eighth time a Mexican feature was nominated in the best foreign language film category.

"I grew up watching foreign language films and learning so much from them. Films like Citizen Kane, Jaws, and Rashomon, The Godfather and Breathless were my inspirations," he said in his acceptance speech. "'There are no waves, there is only an ocean'. The nominees tonight have proven that we are part of the same ocean," he added quoting French new wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol.

Interestingly, Cuaron’s compadres and fellow Mexican filmmakers, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, have been previously nominated in the same category.

In another record, Roma is also the first Netflix film to be nominated for an Oscar and win the award.

It has also received a Golden Globe, Critics' Choice Movie Award and BAFTA Award for best foreign language film.

The film, which is described as Cuaron’s most personal work till date, faced tough competition from another monochrome, Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikovski’s moody, post-war drama Cold War.

Roma is also the fifth ever film and first Mexican film to be nominated in both Best Foreign Language and Best Picture after Amour (2012), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Life is Beautiful (1998) and Z (1969).

Roma helmer Alfonso Cuaron created history by becoming the first person to win a Cinematography Oscar for a film that he also directed, at the 91st Academy Awards.

Cinematography was one of the four technical categories in the list to be chucked out of the live telecast but the Academy had to walk back on its decision after much protest from the film community.

Cuaron hinted at the drama behind the controversial and now reversed decision in his acceptance speech. "To create a single frame of film, as you well know, requires the work of a lot of people, very hard work. If this film was created by my own memories, the film was crafted through the memories of what this great master of cinematography has given to us. It is well-known that in Billy Wilder's office there was a sign that said What would Lubitsch have done?," he had said while accepting the cinematography honour. Ernst Lubitsch was a German-American filmmaker and Wilder's guru.

Actor Tyler Perry, who presented the trophy to Cuaron, also took a dig at the Academy for the decision, saying he was happy to present cinematography trophy live on air rather than during the commercial break.

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Updated Date: Feb 25, 2019 08:56:09 IST