Alfonso Cuaron Thrived on Chaos When He Shot His Own Memories for ‘Roma’

Alfonso Cuaron, who won an Oscar for directing 2013’s “Gravity,” is back in the awards conversation again this year with a very different kind of film, “Roma,” a clearly autobiographical tale that follows the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 70s. “Roma” is notable for its uncompromising art-house esthetics, its meticulous restoration of Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, and its widely praised black-and-white cinematography, which Cuaron created himself as his own DP. He had originally intended to shoot the film with longtime collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki, known as Chivo, but then the DP became unavailable.

What’s the story behind you serving as your own DP for “Roma?”

Chivo started prepping with me. I designed this film for him – the bastard! (laughs) Chivo and I have always had conversations about what are the biggest obstacles to making a good film, and pretty much everything boils down to time. Time for prep, time for production, and time for post. I started realizing that we would need more time and Chivo said, “Man, I can’t do it. I have commitments to two other movies.” That’s why I stepped up. Chivo is the one who suggested it.

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