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21 Reasons Why You Simply Must Watch Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-Winning ‘Roma’

“Roma” has taken the film world by storm. Most critics have already begun to include it in favorite film lists. Not just for this year but for ones that include works from the past 20 years as well. During a screening of the film at the 56th New York Film Festival, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro proclaimed it as one of his five favorite films of all time. Del Toro even made time to go to the Oscars, despite being sick, to hand Alfonso Cuarón his Oscar for Best Actor for “Roma.”

Here is some of what you can expect from the Oscar-winning film.

It fittingly deals with a taboo theme in Mexican society: race.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

There are amazing human moments in the Netflix flick. The theme of race runs throughout “Roma.” Like many Latin American countries, Mexico is a country that’s highly defined by race. In colonial times, the country was ruled by the caste system and today Mexican society continues to operate under similar conditions.

It deals with a dark and overlooked period in Mexican history.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

The period that “Roma” portrays is a tense calm. Three years after the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre and after the Olympic Games (which happened just a few weeks after the massacre), Mexico seemed to be in a historical juncture in which progress was possible. The ‘68 events had happened, and the government had swept it under the rug. There was a new president, who was one of the politicians responsible for the massacre. The presidency went from Gustavo Díaz Ordaz to Luis Echeverría, who was infamous for state repression. In the middle of the Cold War, there was a single-party system in Mexico that Nobel Prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian novelist, called the “perfect dictatorship”. It was covered with democratic paint but at its core, it was a repressive state, not only in the city with student movements but also in rural areas.

Yalitzia Aparicio’s breathtaking performance has been on everyone’s mind since the film was released.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Move over Merryl Streep. Yalitzia Aparicio is totally amazing in her first role, and the award season, while disappointing at the Oscars, was so kind to her.

Libo, Cuarón’s former nanny who is in her 90’s, is one of Cuarón’s biggest inspirations.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

The director wrote the script to honor Libo, an amazing tiny yet strong woman who held his family together in times of confusion and chaos. This picture is just too much.

It acknowledged the crucial role of domestic workers in family dynamics, especially in affluent communities.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Mexico City’s society functions because of domestic workers, who often take the role of main caregivers for children. This is shown in “Roma” in a candid, loving way.

It includes dialogue in indigenous languages, which is major right now.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Contrary to movies who are only spoken in Spanish or English, “Roma” stays true to its characters by having dialogue in Mixtec, the language spoken in some regions of Oaxaca.

It is a poignant look at the strength of Mexican mothers.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Any Latino knows that women are the cornerstone of families. Cuarón shows how crucial the role of mothers and abuelitas is in the household, and how they face tribulations with strength and wisdom.

It is a one-man-show and Cuarón got a lot of recognition at the 91st Academy Awards.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

It is rare to watch a movie in which the director takes on many roles. Cuarón wrote, produced, shot, directed and edited this one and it is a real clavado en su mente.

It celebrates our similarities, rather than our differences, as human beings and shows the power of humanity.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

On paper, there are few similarities between the wealthy and the struggling characters, but they share what matters the most: their basic humanity.

Cuarón has captured the true essence of Mexico City.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

If anyone grew up or has visited Mexico City will recognize the sights, sounds and even indications of smells that populate this modern day masterpiece. From the tamale carts to the knife sharpener it is just amazing.

It offers some of the most stunning images in recent cinema and that’s why it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Cuarón delves not only into his own personal memory as a very privileged Mexican but also into cinematic memory. There are winks to Italian neo-realism. There’s a very fond and amazing wink to Federico Fellini’s “8 ½(Otto o mezzo).” There’s a fantastic scene which deals with politics and state repression that is obviously an echo of The Battle of Algiers, a movie that Cuarón himself referenced in his other great work “Children of Men.”

It is ethnically diverse, showing what real Mexico looks like when you widen the lens of representation.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Most Mexican films that travel to world festivals or make it big in the box office only show white Mexicans that look like models. Not “Roma.” It is an ethnically diverse movie representing the country it depicts.

It features wrestler Latin Lover.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

There are plenty of pop culture references to 1970s Mexico, but also an appearance by the popular wrestler Latin Lover. Lucha libre fans will love this.

It demonstrates how awful Western standards of beauty truly are for so many people.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Aparicio is beautiful and the director shot her features in a way that prove this. It’s a reminder of how inaccurate beauty standards are, how non-inclusive the Western gaze can be. The fact that Aparicio has been ridiculed in social media because she is indigenous proves just how severe this problem continues to be.

It criticizes policies that lead to extreme poverty in underprivleged communities.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

People came from the countryside because the promises of the Mexican Revolution were not fulfilled for indigenous and rural populations. They all went to the city and these cinturones de miseria (belts of misery) were created around Mexico City. So, this movie is about that as well along with the historical memory of early 1970s Mexico.

It is the most chilango movie made, like, ever.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

What makes this film special is that Alfonso Cuarón took a deep dive into his own personal memory as a chilango– a white, middle-class Mexican from Mexico City, which is quite important because racial politics are extremely important in this film and the country as a whole.

Marriage is complicated and sometimes beyond any logic.

Credit: Roma. Netflix.

At the center of Roma’s story is a marital breakup. It is a simple, yet complicated situation that the director presents in a direct, non-melodramatic way. We very seldom see this approach in Mexican cinema, which is so influenced by telenovelas.

That ocean scene no manches, wow!

Credit: Roma / Netflix

We don’t want to spoil the movie but there is a crucial scene that happens among the waves and it is just breathtakingly gorgeous. So tense, so amazing. A moment that will live forever in film history.

Men are inconsequential in the film and it is so refreshing to see women at the center of the story.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

The movie is about women, and contrary to most mainstream stories men are just secondary characters. Hollywood should learn from this.

It offers some truly surreal moments.

Credit: Roma. Netflix.

Andre Breton, the father of the Surrealist Movement, once said that Mexico is surreal by nature. This is captured by this film, which offers some weird moments like this one, were a group of white Mexicans shoot guns in the woods just for fun.

All you need is love.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Love is the force that is ever so present in “Roma.” The film shows us that any obstacle can be belittled if we offer each other help and comfort.

Solving Hollywood’s Diversity Problem One Story At A Time

Entertainment

Solving Hollywood’s Diversity Problem One Story At A Time

Despite the fact that the year is 2019, women and people of color are still underrepresented in the television and film industry. The fight for diversity and equality in the entertainment industry is one that is definitely growing, but a recent study from UCLA found that women and POC are still the least represented. Here’s the crazy part: the study also found that audiences prefer to watch TV shows and movies where the cast is diverse. 

People of color – who make up almost 40% of the population in the United States – only made up 19.8% of movie leading roles, 21.5% of broadcast scripted series leads, 21.3% of cable scripted leads, and 21.3% of digital scripted leads, according to the study. Women – who make up more than half of the U.S. population – made up 32.9% of movie leads, 39.7% of broadcast scripted leads, 43.1% of cable scripted leads and 42.8% of digital scripted leads. 

But times are changing.

A huge reason for this change is thanks to leaders rising up within Hollywood and using their platforms to create the change that is necessary. That’s why it’s so exciting that AT&T has created the Hello Lab Mentorship Program to shine a light on Hollywood voices from women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color. AT&T believes these stories deserve to be heard, and they’re using their resources to create a safe space for underrepresented filmmakers to rise up.

What is the Hello Lab Mentorship Program and why is it important?

Most of us are familiar with AT&T as a mobile phone and internet carrier, but they’re much more than that. Not only does the company own DIRECTV, but the brand also launched its own streaming service, DIRECTV NOW in 2016. In 2018, AT&T merged with Time Warner, solidifying itself as a full media company. Thanks to the merger, AT&T will own several television networks, including HBO, along with Warner Brothers Studio. Because of this, AT&T is now in the unique position to create a vital, game-changing footprint in Hollywood.

Enter: The AT&T Hello Lab. 

The Hello Lab Mentorship Program exists to give an opportunity to underrepresented voices in the film industry. The program launched back in 2017 and serves to lift up filmmakers who are women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. The program provides filmmakers with a platform to tell their diverse and important stories.

Here’s another, very exciting part of the program: director, writer, actress, and producer Lena Waithe is serving as the lead mentor for the 2019 program! 

Along with her producing partner Rishi Rajani and Fullscreen, Waithe will oversee all of the film production phases in the AT&T Mentorship program. This includes talent selection, script editing, general counsel, set visits, and workshops. Basically, she’s running the show. It doesn’t get doper than that. Waithe got involved in the program because mentorship and finding new talent are top priorities for her – a program like this presents an incredible opportunity to find and have a hand in developing some great new writers and directors, while also helping to diversify the industry – it’s a win-win!

“What I consider activism, and what I consider my craft, are one and the same. Telling black stories, telling queer stories, working with up-and-coming talent – that’s my way of dismantling the homogony of Hollywood,” Waithe said in a statement regarding her partnership with the program.

Waithe continued, “And mentorship is essential for underrepresented creatives. Their stories are necessary for our culture and our collective growth. I’m proud to have a hand in ushering in a new generation of storytellers through this project. AT&T is walking the walk, and that in itself is special for a global brand with a massive audience.”

How It Works

This awesome mentorship program selects five up-and-coming talented screenwriters – AT&T will then produce and finance their projects. The screenwriters are paired up (by Waithe herself) with up-and-coming talented directors, to work together to bring their projects to life. The program is very hands on. The mentees are given access to the entire process – they’ll have opportunities to meet everyone from casting directors to major executives. This year, the esteemed Emmy-nominated casting director Kim Coleman (Black KKKlansman, Dear White People) has joined the program. Shelby Stone, the president of production at Common’s production company Freedom Road as well as an Emmy-winning film and television producer, will serve as an advisor for a third year in a row.

Running from June to November, the program will cover every stage of the process of making the films. Development began in June with various workshops and table reads. Next up was “Pitch Day”, complete with the director’s look books that lay out the style and tone of each piece, thoroughly describing how the directors plan to execute the screenplays. Production will take place between August 5 – 25, and then it’s onto the editing phase. After roughly six months, the program will wrap up in November with an exciting premier where the mentees will get to show their hard work to the world.

Another amazing aspect of the program is that it supports the filmmakers during the film festival season. The program supports the directors and writers as they go through the submission process, extending beyond 2019.

Meet the 2019 Mentees

The 2019 class of AT&T’s Hello Lab Mentorship Program is popping off with talent! From all across the country and from all types of backgrounds, the mentees have been specially selected for basically glowing with promise. Their backgrounds include everything from founding their own non-profits, to interning for Saturday Night Live, to create award-winning content for YouTube. These rising stars are ready to show the film industry what they’re really capable of… get ready!

This year, the directors in the program include Cierra Glaudé (Spilt Milk), Alison Eve-Hammersley (Fragile.com), Jessica Mendez Siqueiros (The Fat Friend), Vishnu Vallabhaneni (1/30), and Malakai (Postmarked). The writers include Mechi Parada Lakatos (Spilt Milk), Brittany Menjivar (Fragile.com), Jasmine Johnson (The Fat Friend), Malik Aziz (1/30), and Angela Wong Carbone (Postmarked).

The Workshops

These immensely talented mentees attended workshops over the course of four days in June. The workshops included panels and discussions on diversity and inclusion, development, production, post-production, mock-budgeting, marketing and social media training, and capturing content. The workshops had a multitude of special guests and speakers from all areas of the industry. There was also an exciting “speed-dating” event with producers, where each writer and director had five minutes to talk about themselves in order to find the best professional connection for them.

Though the workshop was only four days, the mentorship provided is daily. Mentors are in constant contact with their mentees, providing support that extends well beyond the program. 

The AT&T Hello Lab Mentorship Program is exciting and important. After all, who wants a bunch of straight white dudes creating everything? Audiences certainly don’t, and the film industry is beginning to catch on. According to a recent study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, U.S. movies that featured a woman in a leading role increased 20 percent in the last 10 years. The report also found that out of the 100 highest-grossing films in the last year, 40 of those were led by women and 28 were led by minorities. It’s time to see those numbers increase even more.

It’s 2019, and although we’re a lot further than we were years ago, we have a long way to go. It’s inspiring and exciting that the landscape of the entertainment industry is changing.

Stay Tuned!

As we follow the journey of this year’s AT&T’s Hello Lab Mentorship Program class, we’ll dive deeper into who they are, their projects, and their visions. 

Here’s to diverse voices and talent being held up, showcased, and given the opportunity to share their stories with the world!

J Balvin Gets In The Business Of Japanese Hip Hop As He Announces New Project For Anime Film

Entertainment

J Balvin Gets In The Business Of Japanese Hip Hop As He Announces New Project For Anime Film

jbalvin / mflo_official / Instagram

J Balvin is totally on a roll right now. He’s just released a surprise album, Oasis, with Bad Bunny which has rocketed to the top of the charts and now the Colombian singer has announced a new project that will take him in an entirely different direction.

J Balvin is working with a Japanese hip hop group in an upcoming anime film.

Credit: @MeetMusicLovers / Twitter

Reggaetonero and Latin music superstar J Balvin has teamed up with Japan-based hip-hop trio m-flo on the theme song for a new animated movie, called HUMAN LOST, to be released in theaters worldwide this fall.

The popularity of Japan’s anime culture is increasing around the world, so it makes perfect sense for the “Mi Gente” singer to do such an incredible collaboration.

The anime film he’s working on is based on a sci-fi novel from 1948.

The original novel, called No Longer Human, is rated as the second best selling novel in all of Japan. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to assume, that with the backing of J Balvin and m-flo, the new adaptation will do even better.

No Longer Human is told in the form of notebooks left by one Ōba Yōzō, a troubled man incapable of revealing his true self to others, and who is instead forced to uphold a facade of hollow humor.

The film, along with the new track, will hit theatres in the US this fall.

While the animated movie is set to hit the theaters in the U.S. in fall this year, it had its world premiere last Friday at the Anime Expo 2019 in Los Angeles.

M-Flo made a surprise appearance at the event to announce their involvement in the movie’s main theme, which features Balvin.

Turns out, M-Flo and Balvin also performed together at last year’s Summer Sonic Festival in Japan – Balvin’s first time performing in the country.

Credit: @billboard / Twitter

The “Safari” singer performed in Japan for the first time last summer at the annual Summer Sonic music festival, where m-flo’s VERBAL suggested they work on the theme song together.

A known fan of Japanese popular culture, Balvin readily accepted the offer and the collaboration took off from there.

Quite a few J Balvin fans were surprised by the annoucement but most were super excited for the project.

It’s definitely a big departure for the reggaeton singer but with the global popularity of Latino singers right now, it’s seems like a perfect match to us.

Some people on Twitter admitted they were just here for the new J Balvin track…not the anime.

Credit: @pkjd818 / Twitter

Even if that’s true for some people, anime has exploded into a giant industry worth more than $18 billion globally, so I’d say Balvin is making the right decision.

READ: Bad Bunny And J Balvin Just Dropped Their Joint Album And It’s Exactly What You’d Expect From These Trap Royals

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