Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma’ to Screen as New York Film Festival Centerpiece

Passion project was set to premiere in Cannes before Netflix spat

alfonso cuaron netflix roma

“Roma,” the latest film from Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón, will screen as the centerpiece of this year’s New York Film Festival.

The film is a passion project that took a reported 16 years to come to fruition. Distributor Netflix was expected to unveil “Roma” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but withdrew the title and several others after a squabble with French exhibitors and Cannes’ changing its submission rules so that competition titles were required receive a theatrical release in France.

“I was absolutely stunned by by the physical power and gravitational force of the images, by the realization that I was seeing something magical: a story of ongoing life grounded within the immensity and mystery of just being here on this planet,” New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said in a statement.

The NYFF announced that this would be the film’s New York premiere, but didn’t call it a world premiere. That leaves open the possibility that it will screen at one or more of the three high-profile festivals that precede NYFF: Venice, Telluride and Toronto.

“Roma” is shot in black-and-white and touts a sophisticated sound design. But little else is known about it, including its full cast and plot.

A program description reads:

In Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographically inspired film, set in Mexico City in the early ’70s, we are placed within the physical and emotional terrain of a middle-class family whose center is quietly and unassumingly held by its beloved live-in nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). The cast is uniformly magnificent, but the real star of ROMA is the world itself, fully present and vibrantly alive, from sudden life-changing events to the slightest shifts in mood and atmosphere. Cuarón tells us an epic story of everyday life while also gently sweeping us into a vast cinematic experience, in which time and space breathe and majestically unfold. 

In March of last year, it was reported that the film concerned the Corpus Christi Massacre, “in which soldiers killed liberal student protesters in Mexico City on June 10, 1971.”

Cuarón, who won the Best Director Oscar for his last film, “Gravity,” praised the NYFF for a “longstanding history of celebrating meaningful and compelling filmmaking.” He said it “felt right to return to the festival with ROMA — an incredibly personal, illuminating, and transformative project for me.”

This year’s NYFF kicks off on September 28.