About Alma Viva

by Ava Cahen

Cruel summer. No sooner has Salomé rekindled with her beloved grandmother that the latter dies suddenly. However, her soul hangs on to the granddaughter for dear life. Cristèle Alves Meira takes on the point of view of a child who sees what others don’t, thus creating an unexpected dialogue between what is visible and invisible. The depiction of a large and loving family, and the portrayal of a Portuguese village where legends and beliefs meet. Alma Viva is an ode to life.

Interview with Cristèle Alves Meira

“I was born in Paris to Portuguese immigrants; we shot Alma Viva and two of my previous short films, Sol Branco and Campo de Viboras, in my maternal grandmother’s village, perched high up in the north-eastern mountains of Portugal. I have a very intimate relationship with these landscapes, I see them as loaded with an outlook on our time that comes from our ancestors. And I also direct with this feeling. There are many powerful, mysterious stories told in these villages. Stories of a bygone era that are the original core, the ancient memory of Portuguese culture. I spent my childhood hearing stories of jinxes and curses. But I always saw people hiding to talk about it because witchcraft is taboo. 

Bringing these beliefs to the screen, making them visible is a way for me to share it, like Salomé’s grandmother whose concern is to share her secret and ancestral knowledge with her granddaughter. Village folks accuse Salomé of being a "Bruxa" (a witch) because she breaks the mold of the sweet, sensible girl that society forces on women. She crosses the line to free herself. I was able to make that film because I’m part of the Portuguese community here in France, part of that remote village. I shot with my family, people I know very well, Lua Michel (who plays Salomé) is my daughter. I needed someone who had intimate knowledge of that territory so that the story could be told without any preconceptions.”

At La Semaine de La Critique

Alma Viva


Feature Film

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