Alfonso Cuaron’s intimate family drama Roma – hailed as a masterpiece by critics – has won a haul of gongs at the Baftas.
The foreign language film took home some of the evening’s most-coveted awards including best film and best director at the ceremony held at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Cuaron thanked Netflix for “having the courage” to get behind the film as he picked up the gong on stage.
He said the extent to which the film has been embraced “in an age where fear and anger are proposed to divide us means the world to me”.
He said that “retreating” was not a solution and spoke about how we are all connected, adding: “And when we finally chose to embrace that connection and show compassion to one another… I believe cinema has the power to help us achieve that”.
Filmed in black-and-white, with all the dialogue in Spanish, the movie is set in 1970s Mexico City and paints a portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amid political turmoil.
The semi-autobiographical story is based on the director’s childhood memories, and focuses on a housekeeper and nanny named Cleo, played by indigenous Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio.
In Cuaron’s native country it has started a national conversation about inequality and the treatment of domestic workers, and in December Aparicio appeared on the cover of Vogue Mexico, a milestone for a woman of indigenous descent in the magazine’s 20-year history.
The film is named after the upscale district of Mexico City where Curaon grew up and stars mostly non-professionals, including Aparicio, who had just completed her teaching degree when she auditioned for the film on a whim.
Throughout the film Cleo’s personal life unravels, as does the relationship between the parents of the children she cares for, and the film juxtaposes her struggles with those of their mother Sofia.
Gravity director Cuaron – the first Mexican film-maker to win an Oscar – also served as cinematographer for the film, which crosses paths with the Corpus Christi massacre, when around 120 people were killed by the military during a student demonstration.
It has made history as the first Netflix film to score a best picture nomination but has provoked controversy with traditionalists concerned that streaming services will sound the death knell for cinema.
Roma is streaming on Netflix now.
- Press Association