VENICE • Director Alfonso Cuaron's new film, a black-and-white family drama with no stars, is a world away literally and metaphorically from his last one, Gravity (2013), the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney effects-heavy space extravaganza.
But the Oscar-winning director says he wants both to be experienced on the big screen, even if he made Roma, which premiered in Venice on Thursday, for streaming service Netflix.
"We know perfectly well that this kind of a film, a film in Spanish, black and white and in the Mixtec language, a drama and not a genre film, it is very difficult for these films to find the spaces where they can get big exposure," he said, meaning traditional Hollywood studios were unlikely to fund that type of movie, even one by an A-list director.
While it has none of the breathtaking science-fiction shots that made Gravity a must-see-at-the-cinema, Roma is achingly beautiful, with long, cinematic tracking shots of a re-created 1970 Mexico City and dramatic land and seascapes.
"Obviously, the ideal situation would be a theatre, on a big screen," Cuaron said. "(But) the important thing is that the film has an impact... This film exists and I am very grateful to Netflix because it has allowed me to work in this way."
Roma will have a theatrical release, but the fact that it will stream online at the same time made it ineligible to compete at the even more prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May, due to France's insistence on a long time-lag before movies are available for home-viewing.
Based on Cuaron's childhood, the film focuses on the women in his life then - his comfortably middle-class mother and the family's two maids - in a country confronted by vast inequalities and violent unrest.
It is one of 21 films competing for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival that runs till Sept 8.