by writer/director Alfonso Cuarón
I was a few months old when Libo, a teenage woman of indigenous background from the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico, came to Mexico City as a domestic worker and a nanny for my parents. Libo raised me and my siblings and became a part of our family, or perhaps it was us who became part of hers. She is a second mother to all of us and still at the center of my family.
I wanted to make a film that, through her character, baptized as Cleo, would show my family, my city, my country and the arbitrary nature of existence through the standpoint of memory.
In my previous films, I had always gone through an intense research process before writing a screenplay, but with Roma, the research process was a search inside myself. It was an introspective process in which I wandered through my own memory… its endless corridors, getting lost in its infinite labyrinth, trusting the free flow of impressions that passed through my consciousness… trying to capture moments, understanding memory as a narrative created and re-written, by your own experience.
Also, in the past when writing my films, I have always enjoyed the collaboration of other writers and submitting our screenplay to the razor-sharp eyes of trusted filmmakers in a very disciplined and analytic process of re-writes. But in Roma, I feared the scrutiny of this process would bring artificiality to the result and taint my goal of preserving the integrity and purity of these memories; translating them into a film honoring time and space.
In looking to my past, I wasn’t interested in making a film wrapped under the warm blanket of nostalgia. I wanted to make a film about the past seen from the prism of my understanding of the present, and through it, examine my family, my city, my country and our world at large… and above all things, the random nature of existence.
It’s here, in this experience of shared loneliness that is our meaningless existence, where the only solace we can find resides in our bonds of affection.
And there is Cleo.