MEXICO CITY - News of Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” being nominated for 10 Academy Awards Tuesday had residents of the director’s childhood Mexico City neighborhood joyfully mining their own memories and anticipating showing their children the film someday.
Cuaron’s personal film shot in black-and-white with dialogue in Spanish and Mixtec was an atypical hit. The film dedicated to a domestic worker in his childhood home was released on Netflix allowing an audience far beyond those likely to buy a ticket to an intimate art house-type film to catch a glimpse of the capital’s middle class Roma Sur, or South Roma, neighborhood.
Gloria Silvia Monreal lives across the street from Cuaron’s childhood home. On Tuesday, she promised to shower Cuaron with kisses if he wins.
“He lived there in front and my parents and his parents greeted each other like good neighbors,” Monreal said. “My brothers say they played ball here in the street.”
Cuaron recreated the original facade of his home on Monreal’s house to shoot some scenes. She has already seen the movie four times.
“It was something sensational, lovely,” she said. “For us it was an incredible experience.”
Roma Sur has been undergoing a steady transformation in recent years and becoming one of the city’s hipper neighborhoods. Original art deco-style homes now mix with six-story chic apartment buildings. Bare bones taco posts give way to cafes and craft beer bars.
Rocio Moreno, 58, has lived in the Roma for 40 years. She hopes the film’s attention will more generally help the image of Mexico and Latinos, “above all to boost the perception of this type of movie.”
The home featured in the film sits on a quiet narrow street. In “Roma” the home’s address is conveniently visible making it an easy pilgrimage site for fans visiting the city. The movie’s success has made the film home and Cuaron’s real childhood house across the street something of a tourist destination.
On Tuesday, Alex Kitterman, a 49-year-old fire man from England was snapping photos of the street. He saw “Roma” recently on Netflix and decided to stop by during his vacation.
“It makes a nice change to what is there in the cinema generally at the moment, all those Marvel Comics movies, a lot of violence,” he said. “This is a gentle movie so I think it’s a nice contrast to what is there at the moment.”
Eliana Olaizola, a native of Argentina, now lives with her family in Cuaron’s childhood home.
The 45-year-old doctor said it was wonderful that Mexican cinema was getting such international exposure.
“I like that (the film) is going to be something that I’ll be able to show my children when they’re older and they’re going to be able to see their childhood home,” she said. “I loved the movie.”