2018 • Foreign Language Film • Backstage

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91st Oscars Transcript: Foreign Language Film

Q. Congratulations. This film is filled with your love for your country. So I have lived here in L.A. for eight years, and now I could more understand the beauty of my country, Japan, and my culture. So you are back to your country to make this film with your people, so could you describe how the journey to make this film ended up with the multiple Oscar and then your dear friend called your name as the best director?

A. Wow. That was a long, long question. Well, the journey has been (inaudible) movie, and it’s been a very long one. Fact of the matter, out of anything that I have ever done, this is the one that I expected the least. This is not what you would call Oscar bait, you know? In the paper, when you do it, and when you finish it, and when you try to put it together for distribution. And so I’m thrilled that this has happened. And most importantly, that audiences around the world and the Academy are embracing a character who is a domestic worker from an indigenous background.

Q. There is a lot there is a lot of films being made in Mexico, not in America, because the government there funds or helps fund the films of all filmmakers. But U.S. Latinos born in the U.S. don’t have the same access. What do you think needs to change for Latinos in the U.S.?

A. This is an interesting question, because there is so much talk about diversity, and, I mean, some progress has been made, but definitely, the Hispanic Americans, and specifically Chicanos, are really, really badly represented still. It’s amazing, you know? And it’s I mean, it’s a huge percentage of the population, so, yeah.

Q. Congratulations. How did you know Yalitza was the one?

A. Well, it’s just that she was to perform one of the for me nowadays my oldest bond of affection that is legal, so it was just something that was completely instinctual. When she walked into a room, I knew it. It was as simple as that. And by the way, it is amazing to observe her work, to watch her work. It’s as if this woman can do whatever she wants. Just think about this. She had never done a film before. Half of the dialogue are in Mixteco. She doesn’t speak Mixteco. She learned Mixteco for the film with a perfect not only intonation and accent, but also emotionally truthful. So she’s amazing. Thank you.

Q. Incredible film.
A. Thank you.

Q. Do you see this as any kind of spiritual companion piece to CHILDREN OF MEN in terms of how both films talk about the plight of you know, the challenge of bringing new life into a chaotic world. I think both films really play off each other in really provocative ways.

A. Well, I don’t really see my films after I finish them. I prefer to see other people’s movies. I I don’t really think so much about my films. I know that thematically in terms of cinematic approach, they have a lot in common, but I would go farther back, probably to Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, that they are kind of very connected. But, yeah, I mean, I will tell you something. The whole thematic of birth, I was not even aware that I had repeating of the films until you guys from some of you guys from journalists and people from the press and critics mentioned that out. So, yeah, I guess that there is a connection, but it’s more up to you to find it, I guess. Thank you so much.

Q. First I have to ask it in Spanish. [Speaks in Spanish.]
So what’s the next step with all these barriers that you have broken from a streaming services like Netflix getting an Oscar to you telling another story that is completely different and actually breaking the stereotypes that we have in Mexico and around the world?

A. Not a basis to say [speaks in Spanish.]

Q. Hey, Alfonso from Mexico. [Speaks in Spanish.] We are journalists, and we have to publish what you’re saying now. And in Mexico, as you know, there is a big party, there’s a celebration, expectation. So what you say to a Mexican who is going to read in the newspaper tomorrow about winning Oscar for best foreign language picture, what is for you to bring that gold of the Oscar to the country with your movie?

A. Well, this is a Mexican film. You know, this award belongs to Mexico. It’s a Mexican film in every single front. It’s not that 95 percent of the crew was a Mexican crew. It’s and the cast is 100 percent Mexican. But the thematic, the country, the landscape, everything is Mexico. This film doesn’t exist if it’s not from Mexico. I put it bluntly. I don’t I could not be here if it was not because of Mexico. Thank you very much.

Q. [Speaks in Spanish.]
A. [Speaks in Spanish.]

Q. [Speaks in Spanish.] This film opens a dialogue between what is Mexico and what is our culture, because we are different people in every point of Mexico City. So you opened this amazing dialogue with your movie.

A. I’m very pleased about that, as I said it before. It is one of the things that’s been the most gratifying of the film. It was not by design. It was something that when I set up to do this film, I was just doing a personal story in the context that I believed it was a truthful story, a truthful context. This conversation, I cannot be proud of because it’s a conversation that should have been should have happened, I’m not saying years or decades, probably centuries ago. And it’s a good thing that it is happening, but it’s very, very late in the game.

Q. [Speaks in Spanish.]
A. [Speaks in Spanish.] Thank you so much all of you. And thank you for all this long journey. You’ve been amazingly respectful and supportive. Thank you so much.

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