‘Gravity’ director Alfonso Cuarón’s new movie ‘Roma’ wins top prize at Venice film festival
Venice has become the launch pad for the Oscars race with Hollywood heavyweights jostling for attention
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón won the Golden Lion top prize at the Venice film festival Saturday for Roma, which critics called not merely a movie but “a vision”.
With its highly emotional story centred on an indigenous maid working for a middle-class family in Mexico City in 1971, it has been hailed as Cuaron’s most personal film - and also his best.
Cuaron told reporters that in an incredible coincidence “today is the birthday of Libo, the woman the movie is based on. What a present!”
The film industry bible Variety said Roma is likely to go down as a “masterpiece”.
“It is no mere movie -it’s a vision … where every image and every emotion is perfectly set in place,” said critic Owen Gleiberman.
The Italian press declared it “sublime” while for The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw it was a “complete triumph”.
Venice has become the launch pad for the Oscars race with Hollywood heavyweights jostling for attention in a line-up director Alberto Barbera called “the best in 30 years”.
Cuaron, 56, reconstructed his childhood home for the Netflix-backed film, borrowing furniture back from relatives to recreate how it was when he was 10.
But the heart of the film is the “luminous” performance of first-time actor Yalitza Aparicio, who plays Cleo, a young live-in maid of Mixteco heritage who looked after the director as a boy.
The second prize Silver Lion went to France’s Jacques Audiard for his hugely enjoyable Western The Sisters Brothers starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C Reilly.
Another Wild West tale, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs by the Coen brothers, won best script.
Having missed out on an Oscar last year, Willem Dafoe took best actor for his acclaimed portrait of the painter Vincent van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate.
Britain’s Olivia Colman took best actress for playing the needy and weak-minded Queen Anne in The Favourite, a viciously funny and apparently accurate historical drama about two powerful women competing for her favour.
Cuaron made his name at Venice in 2001 with his sensual Spanish coming-of-age movie, Y Tu Mama Tambien, before going onto to Oscar glory with Gravity, which also premiered at the festival.
A similar path is predicted for Roma.