(Corrects headline of this Aug 30 to remove reference to funding.)
By Robin Pomeroy
VENICE, Italy (Reuters) – Alfonso Cuaron’s new film, a black-and-white family drama with no stars, is a world away literally and metaphorically from his last one, “Gravity”, the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney effects-heavy space extravaganza.
But the Oscar-winning director says he wants both to be experienced on the big screen, even if he made “Roma”, which premiered in Venice on Thursday, for streaming service Netflix.
“We know perfectly well that this kind of a film, a film in Spanish, black and white and in the Mixtec language, a drama and not a genre film, it is very difficult for these films to find the spaces where they can get big exposure,” Cuaron said, meaning traditional Hollywood studios were unlikely to back that type of movie, even one by an A-list director.
While it has none of the breathtaking science-fiction shots that made “Gravity” a must-see-at-the-cinema movie, “Roma” is achingly beautiful, shot in the crisp, large-format digital 65mm format, with long, cinematic tracking shots of a re-created 1970 Mexico City and dramatic land and sea-scapes.
“Obviously, the ideal situation would be a theater on a big screen,” Cuaron said.
“(But) the important thing is that the film has an impact … This film exists and therefore I am very grateful to Netflix because they have allowed me to work in this way.”
“Roma” will have a theatrical release, but the fact that it will stream online at the same time made it ineligible to compete at the even more prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May due to France’s insistence on a long time lag before movies are available for home viewing.
Based on his own childhood, the film focuses on the women in Cuaron’s life then: his comfortably middle-class mother and the family’s two maids, in a country confronted by vast inequalities and violent unrest.
It is one of 21 films competing for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, which runs from Aug. 29 to Sept 8.
Additional reporting by Hanna Rantala; writing by Robin Pomeroy; editing by Andrew Heavens, Larry King