Travel

For Alfonso Cuaron fans visiting Mexico, all roads lead to Roma

Oscar-nominated movie sparks influx of tourists to see its locations in Mexico City

The success of Roma, which garnered 10 Oscar nominations, has made a star out of one of the movie's key protagonists: The Mexico City neighborhood that gave it its name.

Directed by Academy Award-winning Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, who shot it in black and white, the film is set in the 1970s in the Mexico City neighbourhood where he grew up, La Roma.

Today it is a magnet for film buff tourists seeking the modern-day, full-colour version.

The neighbourhood Cuaron depicts as an upper-middle-class bastion of spacious art-deco houses and fancy cars fell on hard times when it was devastated by a 1985 earthquake that killed more than 10,000 people in Mexico City.

But its central location and leafy streets helped bring it back, and today it is a hipster paradise of trendy bars, cafes, restaurants and shops.

One of those streets in particular has drawn a flow of tourists since Roma premiered on Netflix on Dec 14: Tepeji, where Cuaron grew up and meticulously recreated his boyhood home for the film.

Outside number 22 Tepeji, a newly installed metal plaque informs visitors: "This is where Roma was filmed, 2016-2017."

And tourists and journalists have been hunting for film locations - Tlaxcala street, the busy intersection of Insurgentes and Baja California, the kindergarten that Cuaron attended.

There is even a guidebook for people trying to retrace the film's steps.

Fans will be interested to know that number 22 Tepeji is not the house where Cuaron grew up. His family lived across the street, in number 21.

The identical buildings were constructed in the 1930s, but Cuaron's house was remodelled by subsequent owners, so he opted for the one opposite.

Cuaron has said that production designer Eugenio Caballero did such a good job recreating his childhood home that his family felt like they were inside the real thing when they visited the set.

The owner of number 22, Ms Gloria Monreal, said that turning her home over to the production team was "a party".

Far from resenting the stream of tourists outside her front door, she said she was "very happy" to chat and pose for pictures, and even invites them to sign a guest book.

"It would be nice to have all these lovely people write about what the film meant to them and give it to Alfonso as a gift," said Ms Monreal, who knew Cuaron as a boy. - AFP

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