Alfonso Cuarón: Mexican Director is A Perfect Example of Immigrant Success

Everyone is talking about the award winning film Gravity and its Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron. Alfonso Cuarón Orozco was born on November 28th in Mexico City, Mexico. He always wanted to be a director, and also an astronaut. He received a camera on his 12th birthday, and since then, he started to shoot everything he saw.

In his teen years, filming was his hobby, which led to him not having many friends. He would tell his mother he'd go to a friend's home, when in fact, he went to the movies. After high school, Cuarón decided to study cinema right away. He tried to study at C.C.C. (Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica) but wasn't accepted because, at the time, they weren't accepting students under twenty-four years of age.

Since his mother didn't support his movie-making passion, he started to study philosophy in the morning and in the afternoon he attended  C.U.E.C. (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 who directed a short called Vengeance is Mine and Alfonso collaborated with him.

The film was spoken in English and that didn't please the teachers at the C.U.E.C. It caused such arguments that in 1985, Alfonso Cuaron was expelled from the university.

Fast forward to 2014, and a similar situation is taking place. Although many celebrities and politicians in his native Mexico are excited for Gravity, the Mexican people in general are not pleased to see that Alfonso has been swallowed by Hollywood, and his film is not a product of Mexico’s own proud but struggling film industry.

Gravity is an example of how global the film industry has become. “We have to be very proud that this is a man who came out of the Mexican education system with Mexican film professors. He is the son of Mexican cinema. But he has become universal,” said Leon Krauze, a cultural commentator and news anchor for Univisión network. Alfonso Cuarón is not only the first Mexican, but also the first Latin American director to win an Oscar for best director.

I have seen this reaction before, in many business situations and industries. Immigrants come to the U.S., they bring their own culture and traditions along, open themselves to the new country, and make it. Embracing both cultures seems to be the key to immigrant success in the US. But then if they make it big, they get attacked and criticized by their fellow compatriots. I understand their anger. In order to make it big, you have to give up who you are to become someone new.  But leaving one's country is very hard - you adapt, suffer, grow, withstand, learn and work very hard. And honestly, most of the people don't have the guts to emigrate. It takes a lot of courage to let go.

As Darwin once said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment."

Consuelo Lyonnet


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