#24 In memory of Chris Riera (1968- 2012)

I remember the day we met. I was on stage and you were in the audience, working at O2 Productions at the time, developing projects, such as the Constant Gardner… wait I can’t be writing to her, I just got the news this weekend that she has left us.

 Lung cancer. She used to smoke like crazy. But I don’t believe that was the only factor.

Chris was a script consultant, a dramaturgist, a mother, a fighter, a smile, a friend and a visionary, the only one of her kind in Brazil. She graduated from Yale, she worked as a critic for the Village Voice, she put together many wonderful theater and film projects in NYC and back in São Paulo, her adopted home, miles away from her native Minas Gerais.

I had the pleasure of meeting her in 2007 and having long conversations about our roles and condition as women in screwed-up relationships, women as friends to other women, women in the film business. We came together as intensely as we came apart and as I receive the news of her premature death (44 years old), I can only think of her son, who is still very young, and her smiling advice that influenced the course of my career and therefore my life.

She was the first person, in the film business, who urged me to write. She had met me as an actress but was convinced that I had more to contribute; that I needed to get my ideas and stories out there. This was a woman who knew what she was talking about so I listened. I wrote. I took part in a screenwriting group in São Paulo at the time (I was there to produce the DVD Series and would stay 8 months) and wrote my first treatment ever. The year was 2008. She read it. Keep writing. She said. Don’t depend on others. You have material.

At the time I was still reluctant and put it aside, but I’ll never forget how absolutely encouraging and supportive she was. A rare woman in this business, who just simply rooted for you and would help anyway she could, if she believed in you, no matter what kind of a day she was having. Just like that. Really.

Eventually I went back to NYC and was swallowed once again into another rhythm of being. It’s difficult to keep up intense human relationships at a distance, even with all the technology. So we came apart. Facebook, however, brought us back together in 2010 and there we were again exchanging our updates and struggles. It’s hard to believe or accept that she is gone.

Today I thank the coincidences or destiny of life, for having had the chance of meeting this remarkable woman. This past Friday, the sky received a new star. Whenever you look up, know that it’s Christiane Riera: a singular sensation, who left us too early as my Thank You arrives now too late.

R.I.P.

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10 thoughts on “#24 In memory of Chris Riera (1968- 2012)

  1. Chris will be always with us in that special
    corner of our memory we reserve for extraordinary
    people. We were fortunate to have known
    her. A bright woman, a bright star shining
    forever in the sky to her son João.

  2. Dehne, thank you for the beautiful words you wrote about my lovely sister. Im sure that you thank her while she was alive. With love,
    Flavia Riera

  3. Querida Flavia,
    Meus pensamentos e coração estão com vocês. Your sister was one of a kind. Know that she touched and influenced many lives, including mine. With love and strength from the other side of the ocean, Juliana L. Dehne

  4. Juliana querida, lindo testemunho. A Chris era mesmo one of a kind, muito especial, uma perda que me deixa tão triste… ela também acreditou em mim antes mesmo de eu acreditar… cumpriu uma belíssima missão entre nós, agora está distribuindo seu talento por outras dimensões…. beijão e saudades, Laura Malin.

    • Laura querida, que surpresa boa, que saudade.
      A Chris é uma estrela que chega ao céu e faltará na terra. Mas fomos abençoadas em cruzar com ela aqui. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea. Brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Hope to see you soon. beijo grande! com carinho, J

      • Hey, doll, we are both Chris’ girls which mean a lot… as Omar said below she was the kind of people who really make you look twice at yourself and your worth, when you don’t even believe it yourself. Such people are truly rare and bring other people together – just because that’s their mission. beijão! avisa quando vier ao Brasil!

  5. I heard the news about Chris by chance today on Facebook, as it’s been years since I lived in Sao Paulo or spoke with her. I met Chris in 2007 when I was pitching my first film script to her on behalf of a Brazilian production company. She was at O2 Filmes. I was extremely nervous but she instantly put me at ease with her warmth and genuine encouragement in discovering what was of value in this project. She was interested in the human side of the story we were pitching. Looking back in some ways she made my pitch for me!

    We went out for a coffee break and she told me how much she liked my presentation and encouraged me to apply to O2 for a job to work on developing projects. She had even read an old travel blog of mine before the meeting! I was totally struck by her generosity of spirit and encouragement when I was obviously very green as a writer.

    I only met her that afternoon and at a meeting several months later when the script was in first draft form. Even with these two meetings, and even though she turned down the script (which was a correct judgment by her to be honest) I still remembered her very well and fondly. I am struck by how everyone on this blog and in the Brazilian press has referred to her generosity of attention for other people’s work and encouragement. I am amazed because I felt those qualities even just on two meetings with her, and I always remembered her for it even years later living in England. Even knowing her so little – not at all in fact- I felt really sad when I heard the news today. Perhaps it’s because you never forget people with such positive energy and who really make you look twice at yourself and your worth, when you don’t believe it yourself. Such people are truly rare.

    At that second meeting Chris told me to read Roberto Bolano, who back then was not the internationally famous writer he is now. On her advice I bought the Savage Detectives in English and whenever I looked at that book on my shelf it amazed me how she was able to know Bolano’s importance so early on. Now when I look at that book I will feel a sadness mix with my admiration for her intelligence. My thoughts go out to her friends and family.

    • Dear Omar,
      We met her at around the same time. How comforting. Chris was generous and that is a rare quality we are sensitive to – you are absolutely right. Her generosity was astounding. It’s reached miles. Thank you so much for sharing! May our future endeavors always carry a little piece of her in them. Warm regards, Juliana

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