“Roma,” which is available to watch on Netflix starting today, marks Alfonso Cuarón’s return to Mexico after 17 years of working in Hollywood, and there’s a reason it took so long: He wasn’t sure he’d be able to work in his native country again. Speaking to the Red Bulletin, Cuarón — who got his start with 1995’s “Sólo con Tu Pareja” and directed “Y Tu Mamá También” six years later — explains the absence.
“It is so exhausting, and it’s not good for business,” the filmmaker says of having “burned bridges” in Mexico. “The way I produced my first film, ‘Sólo con Tu Pareja,’ wasn’t looked upon terribly well. I had a lot of support from the Mexican government, but their investment was minor. I was adamant that they were not my bosses. The film was under my control and that didn’t seem to please everyone.”
He continues, “I wanted to manage the movie the way I believed was best. I was aware that I would fall out of favor for any projects to come. So I ended up [taking the film to the] Toronto Film Festival, fully knowing what I had left behind, with the prospects of either going back or starting over. And then I began receiving offers from the United States.”
Not that things were so much better when he came to America. When I first came to Hollywood, it wasn’t about being Mexican but about being from a Mexican generation so different from today’s Mexico,” Cuarón says. “It used to be a closed-tight Mexico, oblivious to the world. It was a Mexico where looking for international impact was seen as a sign of arrogance. It was almost considered a lack of nationalism.”
The bridges have apparently been repaired, as “Roma” — which premieres on Netflix today — has been chosen as Mexico’s entry for Best Foreign-Language Film at the Academy Awards.