Alfonso Cuarón’s Cannes Masterclass: Watch His Full 80-Minute Talk on Directing

"Hollywood had convinced me that no one would want to hire me as a film director and I believed that," the filmmaker said.
Alfonso Cuaron
Alfonso Cuarón
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Alfonso Cuarón taught a packed-out masterclass at Cannes yesterday, where the Mexican filmmaker spoke about his beginnings in film, his friendship with Guillermo del Toro and directing “Gravity” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” The conversation, led by French film critic Michel Ciment, was the second of two masterclasses offered at the festival, following the one given by Clint Eastwood last Sunday.

READ MORE: The 2017 IndieWire Cannes Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

The Academy Award winner spoke about how for him filmmaking started as just a means of survival. “I come from a middle-class family and I grew up at a time when the golden age of cinema was over in Mexico. Cinema was my survival instinct, I needed it. I wouldn’t recommend the path I took to anyone,” he said, according to the official Cannes site.

The writer-director also spoke about the hurdles and disappointments he faced at one point in his career. “After two films in Hollywood, I needed time alone,” he said. “Hollywood had convinced me that no one would want to hire me as a film director and I believed that. I was disappointed with what I was doing, so I started watching the films that inspired me when I started out. Making ‘Y tu mamá también’ helped me find myself again and rediscover my own country.”

READ MORE: ‘Roma’ Behind-the-Scenes Exclusive: Alfonso Cuarón Films on Location in Mexico — Watch

By the time he directed his Oscar-winning “Gravity,” the filmmaker had regained confidence in his work. “I had finally gained the wisdom and security to be able to direct this film the way I wanted to,” he said. “It was a feature film that I really wanted to make, for once.”

Cuarón revealed that when he was offered to direct the “Harry Potter” sequel, at first he was reluctant, and it was his close friend del Toro who convinced him to do it. “I knew nothing about ‘Harry Potter,'” Cuarón said. “I watched the first film and wasn’t impressed. I went to see Guillermo del Toro and he was the one who advised me to accept the proposal. He couldn’t believe that I was in two minds about making this film.” You can watch the full masterclass or listen to the audio here.

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