embroidery

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Searching for "Roma"


Billboard in Colonia del Valle advertising the movie "Roma"

By this time there are a lot of people that know that "Roma" is not just the capital of Italy, but also a neighborhood in Mexico City that is the setting for the movie of the same name... a movie which is nominated for 10 Academy Awards.  It is probably a shoe-in to win the Oscar for best foreign film, but it is also up for best picture of the year, something which I think is very rare.  Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón is nominated, and, in her first screen appearance, Yalitza Aparicio is nominated for best actress.  Aparicio is the first indigenous woman to receive that honor.  (Her father is Mixtec and her mother is Triqui, two tribes from the state of Oaxaca.)  She is also only the second Mexican woman to be nominated... Selma Hayek was the first for her role in "Frida".  

Last year Mexican director Guillermo del Toro won the Oscar for best director  and his film "The Shape of Water" won for best picture.  If "Roma" wins some major awards this year, it would be quite a feather in the cap of the Mexican film industry.  

I have not yet seen the film, but obviously I am eager to do so.  There are some people who say the film is too slow, but I suspect they are the type of people who prefer action movies with lots of car chases and shoot-outs.  I am sure that I will find the film fascinating, especially for its depiction of Mexico City in the early 70s, the time period in which I made my very first trip to Mexico.  

The movie is very autobiographical.  It closely parallels the boyhood life of Cuarón and his upper middle class family who lived in Roma.  The lead role, played by Aparicio, is that of the maid / nanny who is separated by race and social status from the family, but who is much beloved by the children.

I have written several times on this blog about the neighborhood of Roma.  At the beginning of the 20th century it was a very affluent district.  After the earthquake of 1985 wreaked havoc on the neighborhood, it fell into decline.  In the last ten years or so it has had a renaissance, and is now considered one of the hippest, trendiest parts of the city.  It is jam-packed with restaurants of every description as well as art galleries and boutiques.

Since I am here in Mexico City, I was thinking about taking another stroll through Roma, and perhaps finding some spots where the movie was filmed.  I posted on the Mexico City forum of Trip Advisor to ask if anyone knew the exact location of the house that was used as the home of the family in the movie.  Within minutes, someone had replied.  The house is at 21 Tepeji Street in Roma Sur. 

So, with that bit of information, I set out yesterday morning to find the house from "Roma".  The neighborhood is divided into two sections, Roma Norte and Roma Sur (North and South).  It is Roma Norte that is considered so trendy.  Roma Sur is composed mostly of quiet residential streets that seem mostly middle class.  There are some newer apartment buildings, but many of the houses look as if they were there in the era in which the movie takes place.


I had consulted Google Maps before heading out, so I found Tepeji Street without any problem.


  It is another pleasant residential street.



  

I found Number 21, but across the street at Number 22 there were a number of people speaking with a lady outside the door of the house.  I had a feeling that it was more than a group of neighbors chatting on the street.  It seemed that the lady was being interviewed.



I walked over there, and, sure enough, there was a plaque on the outside of the house.



"Here was filmed Roma"

The lady is the owner of the house, and I had a chance to chat with her for a bit.  Her house was used for filming the downstairs scenes.


The house across the street, Number 21, is the house where the director Alfonso Cuarón actually lived as a boy.  Having seen some trailers for the movie, I believe that it was used for exterior shots.


For many of the interior scenes the director had a replica of his boyhood home built.  The set was meticulously furnished as it was in the 1970s.

During my conversation with the lady, I said that I could not find any movie theaters where "Roma" was being screened.  It is not playing at either of the big movie chains, Cinemex and Cinepolis.  She said that she thought it was playing at Cine Tonalá, a small art house cinema just a few blocks away.  When I returned to the condo, I found the website for Cine Tonalá, and, yes, "Roma" is playing there a couple days a week through the month of February.  So I plan on going to see "Roma" right there in the neighborhood of Roma!

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