Following its success at the Venice International Film Festival where it took home the Golden Lion, the event’s highest accolade, Roma by Alfonso Cuarón has been officially selected by the Mexican Academy as the film that will represent the country at the 91st Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category and at the 33rd Goya Awards (the Spanish Academy Awards) in the Best Ibero-American Film field.
Stunningly shot on 60mm film, the black-and-white picture is set in 1970s Mexico City and tracks the life of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an indigenous domestic worker whose days revolve around attending to a middle-class family. One day, her structured life takes a sudden turn just as her boss Sofia (Marina de Tavira), is herself undergoing a traumatic experience.
This is the first time one of Alfonso Cuarón’s movies has been chosen to represent Mexico at the Oscars. Y Tu Mamá También was not submitted as the official Mexican selection, but did manage to earn a Best Original Screenplay nod. His other Mexican project, 1991’s Sólo con tu pareja, experienced controversy upon its completion and took a couple of years to see the light of day in its home country, despite heavy festival presence.
Cuarón couldn’t be present in person for the press conference announcing the decision, but he sent a video thanking the Mexican Academy for selecting his work and recognizing the contributions of the almost entirely Mexican crew that made Roma possible.
What’s unique about Roma – given the prominence of its Oscar-winning director and with Netflix as its distributor – is that it can actually aspire to recognition beyond the Best Foreign Language Film category. Awards pundits believe the Spanish and Mixtec-language drama could score nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and even Best Actress for Aparicio.
Foreign language productions rarely transcend the category designated for them at American awards ceremonies. In its 90-year history, fewer than 10 features in a language other than English have been considered for the top prize at the Academy Awards.
If Roma wins the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar it would become the very first Mexican entry to ever achieve such feat. It could also become the first contender mostly in the Spanish language to be nominated for Best Picture. Iñárritu’s Babel, which has a segment in Spanish, is the closest one to date.
Roma will be released in theaters and on Netflix later this year. Details are still being worked out, but a tentative of December 14 has been mentioned by some publications.