Roma: A Mexican film that is not about narcos

On August 30 is the world premiere of Alfonso Cuarón's new movie: Roma, a story that explores how a family lives during the Dirty War period in Mexico

Roma: A Mexican film that is not about narcos

On August 30 is the world premiere of Roma, the new film by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, at the 2018 Venice Film Festival. According to FilmAffinity, the film tells the story of "a young domestic worker from a family that lives in the Colonia Roma, a middle-class neighborhood in Mexico City." The same media reports that the film is inspired by Cuarón's "own childhood to paint a realistic and emotional portrait of domestic conflicts and social hierarchies during the political turmoil of the 1970s."

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This is the seventh movie by the director awarded by the Academy for his film Gravity. The importance of this work is transcendental, since it seeks to touch critical periods of the history of the country, as it was the turbulent era of the 70s with the Halconazo and the Dirty War, as well as issues of Mexican society, such as classism, racism and government repression. The most important thing of all, is that it will tell this story on a world stage, as an iconic cinematographic figure of this century.

Leer en español: Roma: Una película con esencia mexicana y no es de narcos

What was the Halconazo and the Dirty War?

For Latin Americans, stories of government repression are part not only of the historical memory of this region, but of our memory or that of our parents. Although in Mexico were no military dictatorships as in Argentina or Chile, this country also had a period of censorship and repression between the 60s and 70s. This is known as the Dirty War, a war that was carried out strategically, select and hidden.

Here, enforced disappearance, clandestine operations, torture and paramilitary groups operating under official mandate were part of the country's public life. So far, the numbers of missing, killed or tortured during that time is unknown, since the records were hidden or destroyed. One of the most emblematic episodes of this dark period was the Massacre of Corpus Christi or the Halconazo.

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On June 10, 1971, students from the universities of Mexico City went out in solidarity with their peers in Nuevo León to protest, seeking the democratization of education. The students met with a group of paramilitaries, called the Halcones (Falcons), who beat them with bamboo sticks and ended up shooting them with high-caliber weapons. It is believed that about 120 students died in that event.

The importance of Roma's story

That is the Mexico of Cuarón, who grew up in Mexico City in the 70s and hence the importance of the work. It is a highly personal film, of a facet not so well known in Mexican history, which positions it on world stages. It also moves away from conventional Mexican narratives in international venues, such as narco, crime violence or stories of that style. In fact, it teaches the history of a middle-class family and domestic worker, like millions in Mexico, during a period that Mexican society lived very closely.

Thus, this is an artistic exercise to reconcile Mexican society itself with its own history. The period of the Dirty War remains as a dark and opaque period in the Mexican narrative. However, with the prestige and international presence that it has, Cuarón can put the conversation back on the table and force society to re-recognize the events of the Mexico of the past.

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Ojeda

Translated from "Roma: Una película esencialmente mexicana y no es de narcos"

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