Cuarón, Alfonso Biography

biography of Cuarón, Alfonso

Alfonso Cuarón Orozco
28 November 1961, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Alfonso Cuarón Orozco was born in 28 November in Mexico City, Mexico. He has always wanted to be a director, and also an astronaut. He didn't want to enter to the army so he forgot that possibility. When he was little instead of playing he wanted to make a film, but unfortunately he didn't have a camera. On his 12th birthday he finally received a camera, and since then he started to shoot everything he saw, showing it afterwards to everybody. As a teenager, films were his hobby, and he didn't have many friends. Sometimes he said to his mother he would go to a friend's home, when in fact he would go to the cinema. His ambition was to know every cinema in the city. Near his house there were two studios, Studios Churubusco and Studios 212, where he would go and try to see some interesting stuff. After finishing school, Cuarón decided to study cinema right away. He tried to study in CCC (Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica) but wasn't accepted because at the time they weren't accepting students under 24. As his mother didn't support that idea of cinema, he started to study philosophy in the morning and in the afternoon he went to the CUEC (Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos). During that time he met many people who would later become his collaborators and friends. One of them was 'Luis Estrada (I)' (qv). He also became good friends with 'Carlos Marcovich' (qv) and 'Emmanuel Lubezki' (qv). Luis Estrada directed a short called "Vengance is Mine" and Alfonso and Emmanuel collaborated with him. The film was spoken in English and that didn't please the teachers of the CUEC, specially 'Marcela Fernández Violante' (qv). It caused such arguments that in 1985, Alfonso was expelled from the university. During his time studying in CUEC he met 'Mariana Elizondo' (qv), and with her he has his first son, 'Jonás Cuarón' (qv). After being expelled, Alfonso thought he could never be a director and so went on to work in a Museum so he could sustain his family. One day, 'José Luis García Agraz' (qv) and Fernando CáMara went to the museum and made an offer to Cuarón. They asked him to work as cable person in "_La víspera (1982)_ (qv)". That was his salvation. After that he was assistant director in Garcia Agraz's "_Nocaut (1984)_ (qv)", and in some other films. He was also second unit director in "_Gaby: A True Story (1987)_ (qv)", and co-wrote and directed some episodes in the series "_"A Hora Marcada" (1967)_ (qv)". On New Year's Eve he decided he wouldn't again be an assistant director, and with his brother Carlos started writing what would be his first feature film: "_Sólo con tu pareja (1991)_ (qv)" (Love in the time of Hysteria). The screenplay was written, now the problem was to get the money. IMCINE (Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografia) had already decided which projects it would support that year, but the director of one of those projects was unable to direct it, so his project was canceled, and "Sólo con tu pareja" took its place. There was a lot of tension between Alfonso and the IMCINE executives but after it was finished, it was a huge success and turned out to be a very good film. In Toronto festival the films won many awards, and Alfonso started to be noticed by Hollywood producers. 'Sydney Pollack' (qv) was the first one to invite him to shoot in Hollywood. He proposed a feature film to be directed by Alfonso, but the project didn't work and was canceled. Anyway, Alfonso moved to Los Angeles without anything concrete, and stayed with some friends, as he had no money. Soon after that, Pollack called him again to direct an episode called "_"Fallen Angels" (1993) {Murder, Obliquely (#1.5)}_ (qv)" of the series "_"Fallen Angels" (1993)_ (qv)", that was the first job he had in US, and also the first time he worked with 'Alan Rickman' (qv). Some time passed and Alfonso wanted to direct something as he needed money, he finally signed a contract with Warner Brothers to direct the film _Addicted to Love (1995) (V)_ (qv). One night he read the screenplay for the film _A Little Princess (1995)_ (qv) and fell in love with it. He talked to Warner Brothers and after some meetings he gave up from directing "Addicted to Love" to do instead "A Little Princess". Even thought it wasn't a great box office success, the film received two nominations for the Oscars, and won many other awards. After "A Little Princess" Alfonso developed for some time a project with 'Richard Gere' (qv) starring. It was the story of a man who crosses a desert thinking he's a whale, to find the sea. The project was canceled, but Cuarón got an offer from Twentieth Century Fox to direct the modern adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic _Great Expectations (1998)_ (qv). He didn't want to direct it but the studio insisted a lot, and in the end he accepted it. The experience was very painful and difficult for him mainly because there was never a definitive screenplay. He then reunited with producer 'Jorge Vergara (I)' (qv) and founded Anhelo Productions and Moonson Productions. Anhelo's first picture was also Alfonso's next film, the erotic road movie "_Y tu mamá también (2001)_ (qv)", which was a huge success. During the promotion of the film in Venice, Alfonso met the cinema critic 'Annalisa Bugliani' (qv). They started dating and are now married. "_Children of Men (2006)_ (qv)" was supposed to be Alfonso's next film, a science-fiction story. During the pre-production of the film, Warner Brothers invited Alfonso to direct the third Harry Potter film, "_Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)_ (qv)", and he accepted the offer after some thinking. The film was the greatest box office success of his career. He had a beautiful daughter in 2003 called 'Tess Bu Cuarón' (qv), and in February 2005 another son, called Olmo Teodoro Cuarón. Alfonso Cuarón signed a three-year first look deal with Warner Brother, which allows his films to be distributed worldwide. As a result of that deal, he has two new projects, _History of Love, The (2007)_ and _Memory of Running, The (2007)_. He is also developing another Mexican film "_México '68 (2007)_", about the violent students' revolt that happened in Mexico in 1968. He directed one 5 minute segment of the anthology film _Paris, je t'aime (2006)_ (qv)with 'Nick Nolte' (qv) and 'Ludivine Sagnier' (qv). His latest project, the futuristic film _Children of Men (2006)_ (qv) with 'Clive Owen (I)' (qv), 'Julianne Moore' (qv) and 'Michael Caine (I)' (qv) premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2006 having been nominated for 3 Academy Awards. After his youngest son was diagnosed with autism and the divorce from Annalisa Bugliani he took a break from directing and settled in London where he plans to work on his next projects.

-   'Mariana Elizondo' (qv) (1980 - 1993) (divorced); 1 child

-   'Annalisa Bugliani' (qv) (2001 - 2008) (divorced); 2 children

-   Frequently works with 'Emmanuel Lubezki' (qv) as his director of photography

-   Often uses restlessly moving camera work

-   Use of long continuous shots

-   Often uses wide camera angles

-   When directing, he flashes the title of the movie both at the beginning and at the end of all of his films.

-   Often uses hand-held cameras

-   Brother of 'Carlos Cuarón' (qv).

-   He had never read any of the Harry Potter books when he was offered to direct the third film.

-   Father of 'Tess Bu Cuarón' (qv), 'Jonás Cuarón' (qv) and 'Olmo Teodoro Cuarón' (qv).

-   He is friends with directors 'Guillermo del Toro' (qv), 'Mira Nair' (qv), 'Alejandro González Iñárritu' (qv), 'Terry George (I)' (qv) and 'Terry Gilliam' (qv).

-   He turned down the chance to direct _Addicted to Love (1997)_ (qv) to work instead on _A Little Princess (1995)_ (qv).

-   He was the mentor of actor/director 'Dean Paraskevopoulos' (qv).

-   He was set to write/direct the film _Hart's War (2002)_ (qv) but when production was about to begin he decided to do _Y tu mamá también (2001)_ (qv) instead.

-   He is friends with singer 'Ian Brown (VI)' (qv) and offered to direct one of his future videos.

-   After divorcing from his ex-wife,'Annalisa Bugliani' (qv), he moved from New York where they lived with their children, and now lives in London.

-   He was the original director of the film _The Perez Family (1995)_ (qv), but pulled out before production started.

-   He was attached to direct _Life of Pi (2007)_, but due to the production of _Children of Men (2006)_ (qv), he had to step aside the director's chair. 'Jean- Pierre Jeunet' replaced him.

-   He has never read the novel 'The Children of Men' by P.D. James in which is film _Children of Men (2006)_ (qv) is based on.

-   He became attached to direct the film _Runaway Jury (2003)_ (qv) but after a few months he left the project.

-   He's a fan of 'Tim Burton (I)' (qv).

-   In 2007, he was one of 10 Mexican Oscar-nominees. The others were 'Alejandro González Iñárritu' (qv), 'Guillermo Arriaga (I)' (qv), 'Guillermo del Toro' (qv), 'Adriana Barraza' (qv), 'Guillermo Navarro' (qv), 'Emmanuel Lubezki' (qv), 'Eugenio Caballero' (qv), 'Pilar Revuelta (I)' (qv) and 'Fernando Cámara (I)' (qv).

-   Was attached to direct _Speed Racer (2008)_ (qv) with 'Johnny Depp' (qv) in lead, but the job went to Wachowski brothers.

-   Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

-   Directed two commercials for PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), "Fish" and "Naked", for the series "Be More".

-   What's the point of being an Australian guy traveling through India if you are going to go to India to meet other Australians?

-   I believe that human beings are born first and given passports later. I'm really thankful for my journey. And it's a journey I didn't design.

-   The only reason you make a movie is not to make or set out to do a good or a bad movie, it's just to see what you learn for the next one.

-   Most of cinema nowadays is about shooting a lot and then figuring it out in the cutting room, rather than seeing your film it the head and see what's in your head and not shoot what you have already envisioned in your head.

-   When people see some depth you never intended that's really cool, you just put on a face and say "Oh, yeah, that was deep". What are you going to say? I'm just a moron with luck?

-   When you work with kids, people tell you to be very delicate, but that's the last thing you should do with kids. They feel patronized if you're like that. They just want you to be normal.

-   (Thoughts on the one film (or films) that made him want to become a filmmaker and why): There was no epiphany from one film. There were a few that stood out over the years. I was 8 when I saw _Ladri di biciclette (1948)_, and it was the first black-and-white film I had ever seen. It triggered my curiosity to start seeing European cinema. When I was 7, I saw _The Making of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1970)_ (qv). Hearing 'George Roy Hill' (qv) talk about all the choices he made, I knew that directing movies was what I wanted to do. I remember seeing Death and Venice 40 times one year, and then switching my allegiance to Godard after seeing Masculine/Feminine! I knew early on that I was a nerd and that films were my refuge. Those first few minutes before the lights went off, and you're alone in the theater waiting, were really pleasurable. Whether it was 'Steve McQueen (I)' (qv), the coolest guy in cinema, to 'Robert Altman (I)' (qv)'s strange and wonderful _3 Women (1977)_ (qv), I saw hundreds of films before I ever picked up a camera. I believe I took something away from each one.

-   There are fewer established rules in the way you tell a story for commercials than in features,it's a great little short story you get to play with.

-   If I would rescue one of my movies, it would be A Little Princess.

-   "Premiere" (USA), June 2004, Vol. 17, Iss. 9, pg. 86-89, by: Mark Salisbury, ""When Harry Met Alfonso""

-   "Cinemanía" (Mexico), March 1998, Vol. 2, Iss. 18, pg. 40-41, by: Leslie Fastlicht, "Las grandes esperanzas de Alfonso Cuarón"

-   "Time" (USA), 12 February 2007, pg. 65, by: Richard Corliss, "Brilliance Beyond the Border: Three Oscar-worthy directors hail from one city - and it isn't Los Angeles"

-   "El País Semanal" (Spain), 17 July 2005, Vol. 1503, pg. 56-63, by: Rocío Ayuso, "El cine latino toma EE.UU."

-   "Newsweek" (USA), 31 May 2004, Vol. 163, Iss. 22, pg. 64 - 68, by: Sean Smith, "Lightning Strikes"

-   "Entertainment Weekly" (USA), 20 December 2002, Vol. 1, Iss. 687, pg. 38-39, by: Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, "Entertainer of the Year #10"

-   "The Daily Telegraph" (UK), 31 August 2002, by: Anonymous, "The intriguing tale of Harry Potter and the Mexican director"

-   "Practical Digital Video" (UK), 2007, Iss. 20, pg. 26-29, by: Magazine Feature, "On the Set"

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Acting in movies

  1. Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 8: Growing Up (2012) (V)
  2. Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 5: Evolution (2011) (V)
  3. Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 6: Magical Effects (2011) (V)
  4. Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 3: Creatures (2010) (V)
  5. Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 4: Sound and Music (2010)
  6. "Cinema 3" (1984) {(2009-12-19)}
  7. Ceremonia de inauguración - 56º festival internacional de cine de San Sebastián (2008) (TV)
  8. Empire Movie Awards 2008 (2008) (TV)
  9. Quantum of Solace (2008)
  10. The Orange British Academy Film Awards (2008) (TV)
  11. "Conquistando Hollywood" (2007)
  12. Children of Men: Visions of the Future (2007) (TV)
  13. La noche de los Oscar (2007) (TV)
  14. The Bet (2007/I)
  15. XXI Premios Anuales de la Academia (2007) (TV)
  16. Making 'Sólo con tu pareja' (2006) (V)
  17. San Sebastián 2006: Crónica de Carlos Boyero (2006) (TV)
  18. Wanderlust (2006) (TV)
  19. "Corazón de..." (1997) {(2006-09-25)}
  20. "Film '72" (1971) {(2006-09-18)}
  21. "HypaSpace" (2002) {(#5.247)}
  22. "The Charlie Rose Show" (1991) {(2006-12-20)}
  23. Conjuring a Scene (2004) (V)
  24. Creating the Vision (2004) (V)
  25. Head to Shrunken Head (2004) (V)
  26. "Cartoon Cartoon Fridays" (2000) {Fridays Goes to the Premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (#1.36)}
  27. "HBO First Look" (1992) {'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban': Something Wicked this Way Comes (#11.12)}
  28. "The Charlie Rose Show" (1991) {(2004-06-14)}
  29. The 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2003) (TV)
  30. Detrás de 'Y tu mamá también', the making-of (2001) (V)
  31. Hairshirt (1998)
  32. Las palabras (1983)
  33. San ciudadano martir (1983)


  1. Black & White in Colors (2012) (technical advisor)
  2. The Possibility of Hope (2007) (V) (additional footage)