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Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron and Singapore director Boo Junfeng speak at Singapore premiere of Roma

By Say Peng  /  22 Dec 2018 (Saturday)

Singaporean audiences were treated to Hollywood gold on Thursday.

They had a chance to see Alfonso Cuaron in the flesh!

The Oscar-winning director of Gravity and Children of Men was in Singapore to promote his new film, Roma, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival this year.

Roma is also shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, where it is one of the stronger contenders to win.

Co-organised by Netflix and the Singapore Film Society, Roma was screened at the Filmgarde cinema at Bugis+ to a full house.

Singaporean director Boo Junfeng moderated the post-show Q&A and Cuaron was extremely forthcoming and candid with his answers.

“We can talk technical stuff, right? Geeky stuff. We can talk about geeky stuff, that's cool,” he joked. “Look at the faces, such geeks!”

The multi-hyphenated writer, director, cinematography and editor of Roma, Cuaron told the audience that after Gravity, he wanted to return to Mexico and try to investigate his roots and identity. 

He said, "There is a point in your life where you come to terms with understanding who you are.”

Roma, the title of the film, refers to the neighbourhood Colonia Roma in Mexico City where Cuaron grew up. A semi-autobiographical film, Roma follows the life of Cleo, a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family. 

Fittingly, Cuaron concluded his Q&A by advising film students to develop their own voice. 

"Be close to yourself. Don’t try to emulate. Don’t try to copy. I’m saying this because I made that mistake at some point in my career, to try to either be like some other filmmaker, or try to be commercial, or try to engage in some sort of ‘school of filmmaking’. But it’s about your own voice. Ultimately, if you’re looking for commercial, that’s where the most commercial asset you have – it's your own voice. If you want to be artistic, that’s where your most important artistic asset is. If you want to be personal, obviously that’s where it is.”

He also emphasized the importance of studying film history: “There's no greater school of cinema than film history. A film history that is not from the 70s. I’m talking about film history from Lumiere and Méliès. It’s amazing to see the development of film language throughout the years. And it’s such a pleasure. I just invite you guys to go and revisit, or even visit for the first time and learn about how these great masters since the early days. Because sometimes you think you’re doing something so original to realise that in the 1920s, it had been done many times already."

"It’s really refreshing. Because it challenges you.”  

ROMA is now available to watch on Netflix
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