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Alfonso Cuarón backstage at the 2014 Academy Awards

Alfonso Cuarón at the 2014 Academy Awards in Los Angeles
Alfonso Cuarón at the 2014 Academy Awards in Los Angeles
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The 86th Annual Academy Awards took place on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Here is what this Oscar winner said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.

ALFONSO CUARON

Best Director

Best Film Editing

(“Gravity”)

You have stated that “Gravity” is not a Mexican movie, actually that it doesn't give much Mexican culture. But today you made history in Mexico as the first Mexican director to win an Oscar for Best Director. What does it mean to Mexico to win this award?

I'm Mexican, so I hope that, like anything, some Mexicans were rooting for me to win this thing. What I'm saying is that I don't think that there's enough attention being given to amazing expressions of Mexican culture that are happening right now in Mexico. I really appreciate and I'm really grateful with all this support that I've been feeling from Mexico, but I would love if that same support is given to some other films that are coming out of there with Mexican filmmakers, shot in Mexico, and with Mexican subject matters.

What exactly were you thinking at that moment right before they announced your name? And then also talk about how special this is, because you, essentially, made “Gravity” with your son.

What was I thinking? I was thinking of you, because you jinxed me many times. You were, like, jinxed, and I said, “Yeah, yeah, whatever.” But the thing that's so fantastic is that this is something that Jonás Cuarón began, my son, and he really injected a new energy in my life, in my work. And I'm so happy that now he's celebrating the way that filmmakers like to celebrate, that he's shooting his film in Baja.

The first time that you were on stage tonight, you didn't give any speech. Were you risking some uncomfortable conversations if you didn't get back on stage a second time to thank your family and everybody else or were you confident that you would have another chance?

No. I mean, you don't think so much about the other chance because when you're so used to lose, you don't think you're going to have another break. But it was good that a lot of great people that were around that make this film happen, particularly from the editorial standpoint, were acknowledged. Part of the editorial thing, that yes, I said it before that I think is very important is that we are serving performances, and I don't think that enough was said about Sandra [Bullock's] performance.

You've got an Oscar in each hand. How does that feel?

Balanced. Heavy. No, it's fantastic. Look, what is fantastic of this evening is that this has been a very long process. And, as I said in the speech, yes, it has been a very transformative process for a lot of folks involved in the film.

And this just marks a closure. And I'm grateful with ‘Gravity.” and these and the fact that some other members of the artistic team that made this film happen were celebrated. It's a joy.

Despite the pioneering special effects, the focus of “Gravity” is always on its human characters. Was it difficult at all to find that balance to direct your actors while overseeing the technical side at the same time?

Well, I was surrounded by an amazing group of people that they were really supervising that. The amazing thing actually is not so much the visual effects aspect, but the surprising thing was Sandra. That under the conditions that she was performing, the relationship actor/director was as if we were doing just a scene at the dinner table.

So there was no obstacle around all the physicality, all the strain, all the complicated amount of cues and the amazing amount of make believe that it was required. It's like she had to absorb absolutely everything. Her power of abstraction was fantastic. And no, not because I did a good job, it's because Sandra is amazing.

You were talking about moments like this bringing Mexicans together. What does it mean to you?

I would do my best. But obviously, I'm so proud of that. I think in Mexican, more specifically with my common sense, whatever that is.

If I did “Gravity,” at the end, what I've said is that this doesn't represent Mexican culture, if it makes any difference for the film industry in Mexico, that doesn't mean that it's a product of a Mexican who actually developed in Mexico and everything, his way of thinking, is completely influenced and dictated by that upbringing. So I'm happy to hear that.

Could you just say what the critical success of the artists, of the visual effects, of the music and the sound, what that says about the strength of the British film industry?

Well, it's very obvious. Definitely the amazing know how quality and sophistication of the British film industry made this film happen. I'm talking specifically about companies like Framestore or the amazing crew that I worked with.

This is the third film that I have done in the U.K. I have done more films in the U.K. than in any other country in the world. But again, two things is the British film industry and then is the British film culture. And the amazing thing is that, and the great thing is that the British film culture is in as good shape as the American industry right now. And it's obviously, like Mexico, more venues, more support and more incentives, I think.

For more info: Academy Awards website

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