“Roma” helmer Alfonso Cuaron has claimed the directing Oscar for the second time in his career. He received the honor at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday night, five years after winning it for “Gravity” in 2014.
Cuaron also took home the cinematography prize, making him the first person to nab the award for serving as DP on his own film. He accepted a statue for foreign-language film on behalf of Mexico as well.
“Being here doesn’t get old,” the auteur joked from the stage.
He thanked Oscar-nominated “Roma” stars Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira: “You are the film. They are truly the film.” He also honored the movie’s producers and Netflix execs.
“I want to thank the academy for recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman, one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights, a character that has historically been relegated in the background in cinema,” he added, before saying “gracias” multiple times. “As artists our job is to look where others don’t. This responsibility becomes much more important in times when we are being encouraged to look away.”
Cuaron adds the Oscar to a crowded mantle this season, along with the Critics’ Choice prize, the Golden Globe, the British Academy Award, the Directors Guild honor, and countless critics’ accolades, including those from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.
The film, distributed by streaming giant Netflix, was an incredibly personal endeavor for Cuaron. He virtually recreated his childhood home and many locations from his memories growing up, to tell a story focused on the nanny, Liboria Rodriguez, who helped raise him, and to investigate the trauma of his father leaving the family when Cuaron was just a child.
“I think I wanted to understand, to put the pieces together,” Cuaron told Variety at the beginning of the season. “[Jorge Luis] Borges talks about how memory is an opaque, shattered mirror, but I see it more as a crack in the wall. The crack is whatever pain happened in the past. We tend to put several coats of paint over it, trying to cover that crack. But it’s still there.”