“Roma” is a classic in the hearts of millions of fans who saw themselves on screen. For Latinos, the movie represents a glimpse of our rich history, the divide of social classes, and a story that deserves to be told. For cinephiles, the film is a work of art directed by one of the best directors of all time. But the story and film are two separate things. It’s a multilayered entity that we are still uncovering today, the hallmark of a classic as it will evolve to stay relevant.
Director Alfonso Cuarón said he began working on “Roma” 12 years ago.
In an interview with Daily Mail, Cuarón said that he wanted to make a movie about his maid/nanny more than a decade ago. He wasn’t sure how the project or film would take shape, but he knew that he wanted to tell the story of Libo Rodriguez and how she raised Cuarón and his siblings.
This is something Cuarón as always been transparent about in many interviews. The focus of the film, as he has admitted, was to bring out the story of his family and maid in an authentic and honest portrayal.
Four years ago, Cuarón said he asked Libo if he could interview for his project, which, at the time, he called “The Book Of Hours.”
“The first part was going through her routine, and it was almost a forensic account,” he told the publication. “All the detail was there, like how she would sit on the bed and wake up one of my siblings. We were talking about the bubble I was aware of. The house and my neighborhood.”
Their conversation back then covered everything that she did for them from showing them love, to cleaning up after them, to having “the talk.”
“She was like my parent, and you don’t question your parents about such things,” he said.
Going through these conversations, Cuarón realized the privilege he had by having Libo in his life.
He said he felt immense guilt about their treatment toward her. The film ended up being a way to show his gratitude while also repairing what was broken.
“On the one hand, we’re saying: ‘We love you!” But go and wash the clothes, and bring me a smoothie.” He went on to say, “She had hardships in her life. Hunger when she was a child. And the cold. My experience of hunger then was ‘Oh, we’re late for lunch.'”
“The wound is part of who you are,” he said, “It’s like repairing a crack in a wall. Or, better, mending broken pottery. It’s about repairing yourself. And the end product is more beautiful than the original.”
Cuarón honest depiction of this relationship has stirred emotions within Mexico. The sudden rise in stardom for Yalitza Aparicio forced many in the country to reckon with the ideas around indigenous and non-white Mexicans.
It has been more than a decade since Mexican actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna established themselves as power players in the Hollywood game. Other Mexican actors like Kuno Becker have also broken into the United States mainstream, but they are few and far apart. The new kid on the block is actor Luis Gerardo Mendez, an actor that has done it all in a few years: he has made indie films, a highly successful Netflix show, one of the most successful Mexican movies of all time and now films with Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler and the new Charlie’s Angels team of kickass queens.
He was born in the state of Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Contrary to what some might believe, not every Mexican actor comes from the capital Mexico City! Luis Gerardo was born in the city of Aguascalientes on March 8, 1982.
Remember how Jude Law seemed to be on every single movie released in the early 2000s? Well, that is what the very prolific Luis Gerardo is for the Mexican film industry today.
From the beginning of his career, he has been willing to work with anyone who wants to tell a story. He has collaborated with first-time directors such as Ivan Morales, whose film Sincronia is available on YouTube (it is a delightful film about love and loss). He has taken on peculiar projects such as Camino a Marte, where he plays an alien trapped in a human body. He doesn’t shy away from challenges, ever.
BTW, you just can’t miss his Netflix film Time Share (Tiempo compartido).
Time Share (2018) is a dark comedy that explores the sect-like practices of the tourism industry and how it lures clients to get lifelong commitments to spend holidays in particular all-inclusive resorts. Filmed in Acapulco, it starts as a comedy of errors and soon becomes a much darker film: a true indictment of capitalism and its deathly methods for controlling people through impossible dreams and promises of achieving a higher social status.
Fame and fortune no se la ha subido a la cabeza and he remains humble and con los pies bien puestos sobre la Tierra.
We love his Instagram account, where you can follow his daily life (how cool is this shot from a nightclub toilet in grungy Berlin?), from his trips to life behind the sets of his movies and TV shows.
He is a true supporter of Mexican cinema.
Luis Gerardo had one of the leading roles in the super successful film Nosotros los Nobles (The Noble Family), which tells the story of an upper-class family that suddenly sees its fortune evaporate. Luis Gerardo often collaborates with new and emerging directors and often takes an active role in the production. He believes in and loves the industry which saw him become one of the most recognizable of Latino filmmaking.
We will always remember his character in Club de Cuervos, Salvador Iglesias Jr, Chava pa los cuates.
Some actors are always linked to certain characters, and that is the case of Luis Gerardo, who played the extravagant and frankly kinda dumb Chava Iglesias in the Netflix show Club de Cuervos, which explored the world of Mexican professional soccer. Mendez revealed himself as a comedic genius, navigating the thin line that separates slapstick and high-quality comedy. He gave an apparently shallow character multiple layers of both dramatic and comedic depth.
We mean, no one has worn a vest better.
Chava Iglesias was so ridiculously full of himself that it was uncomfortably fun to watch! He left us plenty of memorable moments, such as successfully hiring the best soccer player in the world out of pure necedad!
He is an animal lover.
The actor collaborates with PETA Latino, particularly in a campaign to treat domestic pets as they deserve: with care and respect. He particularly cares about dogs that are left alone in rooftops all day, a common practice in Mexico.
He has his own collectible figurine!
Once you have a Funko POP! toy made a tu imagen y semejanza you know you have made it!
You can’t miss Bayoneta either (it’s on Netflix).
The outstanding boxing drama Bayoneta is also available on Netflix. It tells the sad story of a has-been fighter from Tijuana that makes a living in Finland by training young boxers. He gives a deep, challenging performance that was physically tough.
His movie Murder Mystery has been one of the most watched Netflix originals.
Yes, of course, it is mainly because of his costars Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, but Mendez’ film was watched by more than 30 million people in the first three days after its release. That is much more than what many theatrical releases get. Streaming services are truly revolutionizing how movies are produced, distributed and watched, and are giving actors like Mendez a platform in which they can explore different genres. Netflix is very fond of Luis Gerardo, and we are sure we will see more of him in the years to come.
Next up, a crazy scientist in the girl-power action film Charlie’s Angels.
He will play a minor role, but he will give comedic relief to the highly anticipated remake directed by Elizabeth Banks. We just can’t wait to see him in this!
His next project deals with US-Mexico relationships: Half Brother sounds truly amazing.
In an exclusive interview for Mitú, the film’s producer and writer, Eduardo Cisneros (one of the leading Latino voices in the industry), said about the actor: “When Jason Shuman and I started fleshing out this story, I immediately thought of Luis Gerardo, because there aren’t many people out there with all the qualities the role required. First of all, he’s a gifted actor, capable of giving a layered dramatic performance, but at the same time, he’s immensely adroit at comedy. We needed a redoubtable leading performer, the kind people come to expect from a Focus movie, but also someone who had a great appeal within the Mexican and Latinx moviegoers. We approached him at the early stages of the project, and little did we know he had a personal, almost autobiographical, connection to the story. So it was almost kismet. He came on board not only as a star but as an executive producer, so we are lucky to have his input and artistry in this movie”.
Cisneros explains what this movie is all about: “Luis Gerardo Méndez stars as Renato, a successful Mexican private aviation entrepreneur based in San Miguel De Allende, who is shocked to discover he has an American half-brother he never knew about, the free-spirited Asher, played by Connor Del Rio. The two very different half-brothers are forced on a road journey together masterminded by their ailing father, tracing the path their father took as an undocumented immigrant from Mexico to the US. The central idea of the movie is the need for learning how to see things from your neighbor’s perspective, which is kind of an allegory for what we’re going today in our global society.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has brought sweeping changes to the country since he took office last year. Whether it’s crime reform, government overhaul or even cutting his own salary. But according to the Washington Post, Lopez Obrador has also slashed the budget of the Mexican Olympic Committee. The cuts are a huge blow to the day-to-day operations of the sports organization which will now no longer be able to offer food, lodging, and medical services at its central sports training complex.
The budget cut is just the latest to come from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador administration which has already cut back on other services such as government jobs, researchers and archaeologists.
The call for more budget cuts comes as a surprise to some as Lopez-Obrador, a self-described leftist, has consciously spent less on government-funded efforts. In just the first seven months on the job, the administration has pushed efforts to reduce spending, which even includes Lopez-Obrador’s own salary and plans to sell off the presidential plane.
The Mexican Olympic Committee says it doesn’t have the $4.7 million needed to operate the Olympic sports center in Mexico City with full resources due to these cuts. The sports complex has various track and pool facilities that include a gymnasium and velodrome. Just this year alone, government funding for sports is about 25 percent below last year’s spending.
Critics of these budget cuts say the government is spending the same amount of money but instead reallocating it to different areas and needs. This has resulted in fears that the cuts will result in not having enough money to perform and essential tasks and duties.
President Lopez Obrador has described his new financial plan as “republican austerity.” This is causing some concerns in Mexico.
Besides just athletics, there is increasing stress for other civic services. Researchers and archaeologists at the National Institute of Anthropology and History told the Washington Post that almost 200 employees have been cut since the year began. These latest announced cuts have renewed fears of more layoffs coming in the near future.
“We have gone from republican austerity to Franciscan poverty,” Joel Santos, head of the researchers’ union at the institute told the Washington Post. Many of these employees are scarcely paid and are on temporary contracts, which already places a big burden on their pay and livelihood.
Throughout the government spectrum, there has been visible cuts and elimination of positions like consultancy and management positions. All while thousands of more public servants have resigned or quit altogether.
Some of these funds being cut are essential to certain projects being worked on throughout Mexico.
While Mexico’s budget, $5.8 trillion pesos ($304 billion), may look similar to last year, it just means that Lopez Obrador is putting it to use in different areas. These decisions are well in his power and are following his budget plan that he crafted back in December.
“There is money,” Valerie Moy, an economist told the Washington Post. “It’s just being redirected to the president’s social and infrastructure projects, some of which appear to be almost whims that lack sound research to determine their viability or potential negative impacts.”
There are some concerns that these cuts are being made without proper consideration. Finance Minister Carlos Urzua left his position just last week due to what he says is the public policy decisions the administration is doing “without sufficient sustenance.”
“It’s what the president decides, what the president wants — and that’s what’s done,” Moy said.
There is no say when or what will be cut next but it may have a huge effect on things bigger than sports.
Back in May, Mexico City was hit with severe smog that was caused by nearby wildfires. Experts say that the looming air pollution could have been prevented if it wasn’t for the budget cuts to environmental services that deal with this type of detection.
“All of these activities could be seriously compromised if the austerity measures are applied indiscriminately,” Mexico’s Science and Technology Consultative Forum said in a statement this year. “If that happens, it would be an irredeemable setback in Mexico’s effort to achieve robust national development, and would make us even more dependent on what occurs beyond our borders.”