Oscars Best Picture nominee Roma sparked my own childhood memories

CNET | 1/22/2019 | Gabriel Sama
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Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo (left), Marco Graf as Pepe and Daniela Demesa as Sofi in Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

I saw Roma by Alfonso Cuarón intending to peek into the memories of his childhood in Mexico City.

Theater - Need

When I left the theater, though, I had an intense need to look into my own.

In the late '60s and early '70s, Mexican youth fought on the streets of the capital for democratic change, civil rights and freedom of expression. On Oct. 2, 1968, the protests ended in the violent siege of Tlatelolco Plaza that left hundreds dead, but the demise of the movement came in 1971 (the year I was born) with El Halconazo, when government-trained paramilitaries beat up and killed demonstrators during a march in Mexico City.

Roma - Cuarón - Childhood - Memories - Film

Roma is based on Cuarón's childhood memories. In the film, the father leaves the family and the mother struggles to make sense of her new social and practical realities. There are four children and a grandmother, but the movie is really about their servants, Cleo (a fantastic Yalitza Aparicio) and Adela (Nancy García García). They both speak Mixtec, a language spoken in Central and Southern Mexico. "Stop speaking funny," the youngest kid tells Cleo at the beginning. "I don't understand you." This foreshadows what's to come.

Cleo is the emotional, practical problem solver: She cooks, cleans, does dishes, puts the kids to sleep and lets the matriarch (an excellent Marina de Tavira) blow off steam whenever she needs to.

Film - Scene - Halconazo - Cleo - Eyes

In the film's most heart-wrenching scene, we see El Halconazo through Cleo's eyes. She's pregnant and witnessing the violence in the streets from a furniture store when her water breaks and she's taken to the hospital. A receptionist there asks the grandma for Cleo's full name. "I don't know her full name and I don't know...
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