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Alfonso Cuaron

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Alfonso Cuaron

Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón in July 2013.
Born Alfonso Cuarón Orozco
(1961-11-28) 28 November 1961 (age 52)
Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, producer, editor
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Mariana Elizondo (1980–1993)
Annalisa Bugliani (2001–2008)

Alfonso Cuarón Orozco (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈfonso kwaˈɾon]; born 28 November 1961) is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer and editor best known for his films A Little Princess (1995), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Children of Men (2006), and Gravity (2013). His fantasy adventure series Believe is due to be broadcast in 2013–2014.

Most of his work has been praised by both audience and critics. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay for Y Tu Mamá También, and Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing for Children of Men. He also won a BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language, as one of the producers of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.

Cuarón's brother Carlos, as well as his son Jonás, are writers and directors as well and both acted as co-writers in some of his works. He is also friends with fellow Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu, with whom he is described as "The Three Amigos of Cinema."

Early life

Alfonso Cuarón was born in Mexico City, and is the son of Alfredo Cuarón, a nuclear physicist who worked for the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency for many years. He has two brothers, Carlos, also a filmmaker, and Alfredo, a conservation biologist.

Cuarón studied Philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and filmmaking at CUEC (Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos), a faculty of the same University. There, he met director Carlos Marcovich and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and they made what would be his first short film, Vengeance Is Mine. The controversy caused by the fact that the film was shot in English was not the reason he was expelled from the film school; the reason was that he did not get the authorization to commercialize his film. He decided to drop out.


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

Sólo con tu pareja

Sólo con tu pareja was a sex comedy about a womanizing businessman (played by Daniel Giménez Cacho) who, after spurning 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. It is somewhat unusual for directors to be credited co-editors, although the Coen Brothers and Robert Rodriguez have both directed and edited nearly all of their films. Cuarón continued this close involvement in editing on several of his later films.

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.

International success

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.

Cuarón's next project found him 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 in her late twenties. 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 2003, Cuarón directed the third film in the successful Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Cuarón faced criticism from some of the more purist Harry Potter fans for his approach to the film. At the time of the movie's release, however, author J. K. Rowling said that it was her personal favorite from the series so far.[1] Critically, the film was also better received than the first two installments, with some critics remarking that it was the first Harry Potter film to truly capture the essence of the novels.[2] It remained as the most critically acclaimed film of the Harry Potter film franchise until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

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 both Editing (with Alex Rodríguez) and 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[3]), 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 sharply criticized by disability rights groups for its negative portrayal of autism.[4]

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. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the film was released in the fall of 2013[5] and opened the 70th Venice International Film Festival in August.[6]

In 2013, Cuarón created Believe, an upcoming science fiction/fantasy/adventure series due to be 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.

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards:

  • 2003: Best Screenplay - Original (Y tu mamá también, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Screenplay - Adapted (Children of Men, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Editing (Children of Men, nominated)

BAFTA Awards:

  • 2003: Best Film Not in the English Language (Y tu mamá también, nominated)
  • 2003: Best Screenplay - Original (Y tu mamá también, nominated)
  • 2004: BAFTA Children's Award - Best Feature Film (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won)
  • 2005: Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Film Not in the English Language (Pan's Labyrinth, won)
  • 2011: BAFTA Children's Award - First Light Awards - Kids' Vote for Film of the Decade (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won)
  • 2011: Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema (Harry Potter series, joined by J. K. Rowling, David Heyman, David Barron, David Yates and Mike Newell, shared with Harry Potter cast and crew)

Independent Spirit Awards:

  • 2003: Best Foreign Film (Y tu mamá también, won)
  • 2007: Best Feature (Pan's Labyrinth, nominated)

Venice Film Festival:

  • 2001: Golden Lion (Y tu mamá también, nominated)
  • 2001: Best Screenplay (Y tu mamá también, won)
  • 2006: Golden Lion (Children of Men, nominated)
  • 2006: Laterna Magica Prize (Children of Men, won)
  • 2013: Future Film Digital Award (Gravity, won)

Saturn Awards:

  • 2004: Best Director (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, nominated)
  • 2006: Best Director (Children of Men, nominated)


Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer Editor Assistant director
1986 Les Pyramides Bleues Yes
1991 Sólo con tu pareja Yes Yes Yes Yes
1995 A Little Princess Yes
1998 Great Expectations Yes Yes
2001 Y Tu Mamá También Yes Yes Yes
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Yes
Crónicas Yes
The Assassination of Richard Nixon Yes
2005 Black Sun Yes
2006 Children of Men Yes Yes Yes
Pan's Labyrinth Yes
2007 Year of the Nail Yes
2008 Rudo y Cursi Yes
2013 Gravity Yes Yes Yes Yes

Short films

  • Who's He Anyway (1983)
  • Vengeance Is Mine (1983) Co-director
  • Cuarteto para el fin del tiempo (1983)
  • Paris, je t'aime (2006) (segment "Parc Monceau")
  • The Shock Doctrine (2007) Co-writer and Producer (a short film directed by his son Jonás Cuarón, different than book with same time)[7]

Documentary films

  • The Possibility of Hope (2007) Short


  • La Hora Marcada (1986) (episodes "Ángel Pérez", "El taxi", "Zangamanga", "No estoy jugando" and "A veces regresa")
  • Fallen Angels (1993) (episode "Murder, Obliquely")

See also


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • BAFTA webcast, 27 July 2007
Preceded by
Chris Columbus
Harry Potter film director
Succeeded by
Mike Newell

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