Alfonso Cuarón

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Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuaron (2013) cropped.jpg
Cuarón in July 2013
Alfonso Cuarón Orozco

(1961-11-28) 28 November 1961 (age 59)
Mexico City, Mexico
Alma mater National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • Director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • cinematographer
  • film editor
Years active1981–present
Mariana Elizondo
(m. 1980;div. 1993)

Annalisa Bugliani
(m. 2001;div. 2008)
Children3, including Jonás Cuarón
Relatives Carlos Cuarón (brother)
Honours British Academy of Film and Television Arts Directors Guild of America Award

Alfonso Cuarón ( US: /kwɑːˈrn/ kwah-ROHN, [1] Spanish:  [alˈfonso kwaˈɾon] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); born 28 November 1961) is a Mexican film director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer and editor. Cuaron is the first Mexico-born filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director. [2] He has been nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories, [lower-alpha 1] a record he shares with Walt Disney and George Clooney.


Cuaron has received 11 Academy Award nominations, winning four including Best Director for Gravity (2013) and Roma (2018), Best Film Editing for Gravity, and Best Cinematography for Roma. His other notable films from a variety of genres include the family drama A Little Princess (1995), the romantic drama Great Expectations (1998), the coming of age road comedy film Y tu mamá también (2001), the fantasy film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), and the science fiction dystopian thriller Children of Men (2006). [3] [4] [5]

Early life

Alfonso Cuarón Orozco was born in Mexico City, the son of Alfredo Cuarón, a doctor specializing in nuclear medicine and Cristina Orozco, a pharmaceutical biochemist. [6] He has two brothers, Carlos, also a filmmaker, [7] and Alfredo, a conservation biologist.[ citation needed ] Cuarón studied philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and filmmaking at CUEC (Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos), [8] a school within the same university. There he met the director Carlos Marcovich and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, [8] and they made what would be his first short film, Vengeance Is Mine.[ citation needed ]


1990s: Early career

Cuaron at the Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara in 1998. Alfonso Cuaron (1998).jpg
Cuarón at the Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara in 1998.

Cuarón began working on television in Mexico, first as a technician and then as a director. His television work led to assignments as an assistant director for several film productions including La Gran Fiesta , Gaby: A True Story and Romero , and in 1991 he landed his first big-screen directorial assignment.

In 1991, Cuaron directed Sólo con tu pareja , a sex comedy about a womanizing businessman (played by Daniel Giménez Cacho) who, after having sex with an attractive nurse, is fooled into believing he's contracted AIDS. In addition to writing, producing and directing, Cuarón co-edited the film with Luis Patlán. [9] The film, which also starred cabaret singer Astrid Hadad and model/actress Claudia Ramírez (with whom Cuarón was linked between 1989 and 1993) was a big hit in Mexico. After this success, director Sydney Pollack hired Cuarón to direct an episode of Fallen Angels , a series of neo-noir stories produced for the Showtime premium cable network in 1993; other directors who worked on the series included Steven Soderbergh, Jonathan Kaplan, Peter Bogdanovich, and Tom Hanks.

In 1995, Cuarón released his first feature film produced in the United States, A Little Princess , an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel. Cuarón's next feature was also a literary adaptation, a modernized version of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Robert De Niro.

2000s: International success

Cuaron and Clive Owen, who worked together on Children of Men. Alfonso Cuaron y Clive Owen (Children of men).jpg
Cuarón and Clive Owen, who worked together on Children of Men.

In 2001, Cuarón found himself returning to Mexico with a Spanish-speaking cast to film Y tu mamá también , starring Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Maribel Verdú. It was a provocative and controversial road comedy about two sexually obsessed teenagers who take an extended road trip with an attractive married woman who is much older than them. The film's open portrayal of sexuality and frequent rude humor, as well as the politically and socially relevant asides, made the film an international hit and a major success with critics. Cuarón shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay with co-writer and brother Carlos Cuarón.

In 2004, Cuarón directed the third film in the successful Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban . Cuarón faced criticism at the time from some Harry Potter fans for his approach to the film, notably its tendency to take more creative liberties with the source material than its predecessors. However, author J. K. Rowling, who had seen and loved Cuarón's film Y tu mamá también, said that it was her personal favorite from the series so far. [10] Critically, the film was also better received than the first two installments, with some critics remarking its new tone and for being the first Harry Potter film to truly capture the essence of the novels. [11] It has been subsequently rated by audience polls and critics as the best of the movie franchise series.

In 2006, Cuarón's feature Children of Men , an adaptation of the P. D. James novel starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine, received wide critical acclaim including three Academy Award nominations. Cuarón himself received two nominations for his work on the film in Best Film Editing (with Alex Rodríguez) and Best Adapted Screenplay (with several collaborators).

He created the production and distribution company Esperanto Filmoj ("Esperanto Films", named because of his support for the international language Esperanto [12] ), which has credits in the films Duck Season , Pan's Labyrinth , and Gravity .

Cuarón also directed the controversial public service announcement "I Am Autism" for Autism Speaks that was criticized by disability rights groups for its negative portrayal of autism. [13]

2010s: Awards success

Cuaron at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival Alfonso Cuaron, President jury Venezia 72 (25805089406).jpg
Cuaron at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival
Alfonso Cuaron in Morelia International Film Festival Alfonso Cuaron en Morelia.jpg
Alfonso Cuarón in Morelia International Film Festival

In 2010, Cuarón began to develop the film Gravity , a drama set in space. He was joined by producer David Heyman, with whom Cuarón worked on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban . Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the film opened the 70th Venice International Film Festival in August. The film was then released in America on October 4, 2013 [14] The film became financial success earning 723.2 million of the box office against a budget of 130 million. [15] The film also received many awards nominations. On 12 January 2014, Alfonso accepted the Golden Globe Award in the category of Best Director. The film received ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Cuarón won for Best Directing, becoming the first Latin American to win the award, [16] while he and Mark Sanger received the award for Best Film Editing. [17]

In 2013, Cuarón created Believe , a science fiction/fantasy/adventure series that was broadcast as part of the 2013–14 United States network television schedule on NBC as a mid-season entry. The series was created by Cuarón for Bad Robot Productions and Warner Bros. Television. In 2014, TIME placed him in its list of "100 Most Influential People in the World" – Pioneers. [18]

In May 2015, Cuarón was announced as the President of the Jury for the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. [19]

Production began in fall 2016 for Cuarón's eighth film, Roma, a tale of a housekeeper for a middle class Mexican family in 1970s Mexico City, based on the life of his family's longtime maid, Liboria Rodríguez. [20] The project was produced by Cuarón, Gabriela Rodríguez and Nicolás Celis and starred Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira both of whom received Oscar nominations. The film debuted at 75th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, [21] and was distributed to select theaters in Mexico and United States before its online release on Netflix. Roma was highly acclaimed upon release; among its accolades are two Golden Globes (Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director for Cuarón) and three Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Cinematography for Cuarón) out of a leading ten nominations. [22] [23] In 2019, Cuaron signed an overall TV deal at Apple. [24]


Cuarón's films seem to seep with his many signature visual, thematic, and structural elements. Most notable, is the director's use of long takes, and his constantly moving camera. These tendencies create the feeling of real time and real space within the worlds that Cuaron explores in his films. Elaborating on this the director states,“For Children of Men, we wanted to take advantage of the element of real time. It’s a documentary approach. As if you were just following characters around with your own digital camera in the year 2027.” This documentary approach grounds the sometimes fantastical and otherworldly settings the director traverses in films such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Gravity. In his films, camera movement acts as an extension of character emotion. Whether employing handheld, steadicam or robotic arm, Cuarón uses the tools of cinematography to create an intense, symbiotic relationship between viewer and onscreen action. [25]

Personal life

Cuarón is a vegetarian [26] [27] and has been living in London since 2000. [28]

Cuarón's first marriage was to Mariana Elizondo with whom he has a son, Jonás Cuarón, born in 1981. Jonás Cuarón is also a film director, known for Year of the Nail and Desierto . [29] Alfonso Cuarón's second marriage, from 2001 to 2008 was to Italian actress and freelance journalist Annalisa Bugliani, with whom he has two children. [29]

He has publicly shown his fascination for the Esperanto language and his support for the Esperanto movement. [30] He called his production company Esperanto Filmoj.

In 2009, Cuarón signed a petition which called for the release of film director Roman Polanski, who was arrest in Switzerland in relation to his 1977 charge for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. [31] [32] [33]


Directed features
1991 Sólo con tu pareja Warner Bros.
1995 A Little Princess
1998 Great Expectations 20th Century Fox
2001 Y tu mamá también IFC Films
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Warner Bros.
2006 Children of Men Universal Pictures
2013 Gravity Warner Bros.
2018 Roma Netflix

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations received by Cuarón's films
YearWork Academy Awards [17] BAFTA Awards [34] Golden Globe Awards [35]
1995 A Little Princess 2
2001 Y tu mamá también 121
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 24
2006 Children of Men 332
2013 Gravity 10711641
2018 Roma 1037432

See also


  1. Best Original Screenplay for Y tu mamá también and Roma, Best Adapted Screenplay for Children of Men, Best Film Editing for Children of Men and Gravity, Best Picture and Best Director for Gravity and Roma, and Best Cinematography for Roma.

Related Research Articles

<i>Y tu mamá también</i> 2001 film by Alfonso Cuarón

Y tu mamá también is a 2001 Mexican road film blending drama, comedy, and sex, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and co-written by him and his brother Carlos. It stars Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal and Spanish actress Maribel Verdú.

<i>Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban</i> (film) 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, based on J. K. Rowling's 1999 novel of the same name. Produced by Chris Columbus, David Heyman, and Mark Radcliffe and written by Steve Kloves, it is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and the third instalment in the Harry Potter film series. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, with Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. Its story follows Harry's third year at Hogwarts as he is informed that a prisoner named Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban and intends to kill him.

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David Heyman English film producer

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<i>Sólo con tu pareja</i> 1991 Mexican film directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Sólo con tu pareja is a 1991 Mexican film by Alfonso Cuarón.

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<i>Roma</i> (2018 film) 2018 film directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Roma is a 2018 Mexican drama film written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also produced, shot, and co-edited it. Set in 1970 and 1971, Roma follows the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class family, as a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón's upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. The film stars Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira.

Gabriela Rodríguez is a Venezuelan film producer based in London. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture for her work on Roma, and was the first Latin American woman to earn a nomination in that category. She also won two BAFTAs and a British Independent Film Award, as well as other nominations for her production work on the film.

Alfonso Cuarón filmography

Alfonso Cuarón is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, cinematographer and editor. His most notable films include the children's fantasy drama A Little Princess (1995), the romantic drama Great Expectations (1998), the coming of age drama Y tu mamá también (2001), the fantasy film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), the dystopian drama Children of Men (2006), the science fiction film Gravity (2013), and Mexican drama film Roma (2018)


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