Fans of Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” have spent nearly three years wondering how leading actress Yalitza Aparicio would follow-up the three-time Oscar winning drama. Aparicio was a schoolteacher plucked from obscurity to star in “Roma,” which resulted in her becoming the first Mexican woman to be Oscar nominated for Best Actress in 14 years and the first Indigenous woman in history. Aparicio has not acted in a second film until now. As reported by Mexican publication El Universal, production on Aparicio’s second feature kicked off this week in Tlalpujahua in central Mexico.
Aparicio is starring in “Presences,” a horror film from “Innocent Voices” director Luis Mandoki. Damián Alcázar, best known for performances in “Hell” and “Herod’s Law,” is also starring in the movie, which is filming under strict coronavirus safety guidelines. According to El Universal: “The film tells the story of a man who loses his wife and goes to seclude himself in a cabin in the woods, where strange things happen.” Production in Tlalpujahua is expected to last for a month.
While “Presences” marks the first movie Aparicio has taken on since “Roma,” the actress has remained busy over the last two years, including supporting Indigenous film community efforts in Mexico. As IndieWire reported last summer, “Aparicio has become one of the country’s foremost activists for its historically marginalized people.” The actress has teamed with projects such as Cine Too to help extend access to cinema to marginalized communities. Cine Too is a one-screen, 75-seat cinema in Guelatao de Juárez, Oaxaca that serves as an educational center for the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers.
“It’s important to save these spaces because they reach places where the arts are often not accessible,” Aparicio told IndieWire. “I come from a community where there’s no movie theater, and as a consequence the population, especially the children that grow up those communities, has less of an interest in the cinematic arts. [Cine Too] has the possibility to reach these children and provide an opportunity to instill in them the passion for cinema and teach them about this art form.”
Aparicio continued, “My objective in my career is to give visibility to all of us who have been kept in the dark for so long. The acting projects I’m working on are moving slowly because I’m putting all my efforts in not being pigeonholed because of my appearance. There are many people who have the disposition to help change things. We’ve had enough of people being typecast in certain roles or characters based on the color of their skin. We have a complicated job, because these things can’t be changed overnight but hopefully we can show people that the only limits are within us.”
“Wherever I go, I’ll always be proudly representing our Indigenous communities,” the actress concluded. “I’m conscious that every step I take may open doors for someone else and at the same time it’s an opportunity for society to realize we are part of it and that we are here.”
Aparicio’s Oscar-nominated performance in “Roma” is now streaming on Netflix.