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Venice President Guillermo del Toro Has a Plan for Judging His Friend Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma’ Fairly

Taika Waititi also spoke about his ability to appreciate tragic films, even though he has a comedy background.

Venice Jury

Venice Jury President Guillermo Del Toro, Christoph Waltz, Taika Waititi, Naomi Watts, Malgorzata Szumowska, Trine Dyrholm, Nicole Garcia, Sylvia Chang, and Paolo Genovese at a photocall on August 29.

Maria Laura Antonelli/REX/Shutterstock

After Guillermo del Toro gave an impassioned plea for greater female representation this morning, the Venice Film Festival president acknowledged that he would have to contend with judging “Roma,” which is directed by his Mexican peer Alfonso Cuarón.

Del Toro spoke glowingly about Mexican cinema’s rising international profile, but deferred to his jury — which includes Christoph Waltz, Naomi Watts, and Taika Waititi — when asked if he would be able to appraise Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” with objectivity, joking, “I am not a dictator, I’m just the president!

Cuarón’s highly anticipated film was famously bound for Cannes, but the French festival had to bid the Netflix awards-contender adieu when they couldn’t get the streaming service to give the film an exclusively theatrical release. Del Toro danced around the subject when asked. “I think that the films are judged by what exists in that rectangle,” he said, and not by the details of their release.

Otherwise, there were plenty of laughs to go around, mostly thanks to Waititi, who sat just off the crowded stage wearing a bright red kimono.

Asked whether he felt comfortable judging other films, he deadpanned, “I’m a very judgmental person, so this is perfect for me. I thrive on judging people and I’m very critical, so I’m in my element.”

Waititi also had the crowd roaring when he explained that heavier festival fare would pose no problem, even though he is known for his comedic flare.

“Tonally, comedy comes from sadness and tragedy,” he said. “I have a very sensitive meter for tragedy. I like to think of myself as sort like the Tarkovsky of comedy. All of my comedy from a very deeply artistic foundation. I’ve been trying to emulate my heroes like him and… Malick and… Ozu. So I think I’m gonna do a great job of watching a lot of depressing films.”

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