The Cine Latino Film Festival opened on Wednesday 21 November with the film Roma. The event was held at Palace Cinema on James Street, and was followed by a night of wine, canapes, and Latin music from a live band. The film was originally created for Netflix and is only being shown at a few select cinemas for the festival.
Set in 1970s Mexico City, Roma is the story of a young woman named Cleo, played by Yalitza Aparicio, and the dysfunctional family she works for. Deeply emotional, utterly moving, and as joyful as it is tear jerking – the film feels more like an experience of real life than fiction. Written and directed by academy award winning director Alfonso Cuarón, the film is set amongst the violent turmoil of the student uprising against the Mexican government. Among that turmoil is this normal family who are going about their lives experiencing everyday problems just on the edge of this huge historical moment.
Cleo is of Mixteco heritage, and the dichotomy between her heritage and the people she works for is beautifully discussed. The family friends complain about land disputes over their holiday homes with the native tribes, her employer flips between treating her as part of the family and simply an employee, and she is treated as less than by many of the men around her.
The mother Sofia has her own struggles, her husband Antonio abandons the family leaving her to support four children while dealing with her own grief. This film perfectly captures the timeless and universal struggles of women, and their innate strength. Cuarón shows his directorial style though the black and white images, the leisurely narrative pace, and the lengthy panning shots; which creates a beautifully contemplative film that takes the audience through the universal joys and pains of humanity.
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