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.