At this point, we have to assume that Alfonso Cuarón is having slightly mixed feelings about Netflix acquiring the distribution rights to his latest auteur effort, Roma. On the one hand, distribution—especially from a company with an acquisition budget like Netflix’s—is always something to be celebrated, especially for a small and personal movie like the Gravity director’s tale of a family’s life in his own native Mexico City. On the other hand, it means that his small, personal movie is now inextricably bound up with the ever-present Netflix narrative, as it was today, when the film won the grand prize Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, one of the streaming service’s first big wins on the festival circuit.
Cuarón received the award from his old pal (and occasional Harry Potter shamer), Guillermo del Toro, who served as this year’s jury president at the festival. Cuarón was clearly delighted at the victory, while slightly less so at questions about whether he was prouder of the semi-autobiographical picture on a personal level, or as, say, a representation of an online streaming company’s continued integration with world of international cinematic renown. “Do you really need an answer to that?” he shot back at one such query, presumably incited at least in part by Netflix’s high-profile struggle with Cannes, where Roma was originally scheduled to show. (Del Toro expressed similar frustrations, noting “How do you say hyperbole in Italian? I don’t think this is the beginning of the end of anything. It’s a continuation of a process that started a hundred years ago.”)
Roma wasn’t the only big winner at this year’s festival, though; Yorgos Lanthimos’ new comedy The Favourite brought home two awards, the Grand Jury Prize for the film itself, and a Best Actress award for star Olivia Colman. (Willem Dafoe won Best Actor, meanwhile, for his turn as Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate.) Jacques Audiard took home the Silver Lion Prize for his Joaquin Phoenix-starring The Sisters Brothers, while The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent scored a Special Jury Prize for her colonial vengeance thriller The Nightingale. Oh, and one more for Netflix: Joel and Ethan Coen snagged a Best Screenplay award for The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs.
Anyway, Netflix is now a certified indie festival darling, and it’s all Alfonso Cuarón’s fault. We now expect that we’ll never hear another word about this issue—or the company’s ongoing guerrilla war with theater owners around the planet—from anyone, ever again.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to Roma as Netflix’s first big festival win ever. Netflix Original I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore won the top prize at Sundance in 2017. We regret the error.