Interview: Cristina Álvarez López

The Brief

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Cristina Álvarez López is a freelance film critic. Her writing and audiovisual essays have been featured in Sight & Sound Magazine, De Filmkrant, Fandor Keyframe, and MUBI Notebook, among other online and print publications. She has translated a number of theoretical texts on film, and has contributed to books on Chantal Akerman, Philippe Garrel, Bong Joon-ho, Max Ophüls, and Paul Schrader. She is also the co-founder of the online journal Transit: Cine y otros desvíos.

Which book would you recommend to our readers?
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Adventure novel, tragic love tale, metaphysical mystery, cinema’s inner fantasy: it combines all these genres, excelling in each one.

Which film would you recommend to our readers?
The Silence of the Sea, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. A chamber piece that uses explosive gestures, mise-en-scène, and montage to delineate power relations and subterranean passions in occupied France.

Which essay would you recommend to our readers?
‘Lewis Carroll’ by Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze builds his idea about Carroll’s surface nonsense by beautifully unfolding it across sharp, poetic and resonant associative chains.

Which short story would you recommend to our readers?
‘Sun’ by D. H. Lawrence. A sensual, step-by-step depiction of the transformative relationship between a woman and the sun that encapsulates the author’s worldview.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are directors creative dictators?
That’s a sad and often unfair caricature. The nature and terms of the collaboration between director and team members vary in each case.

Can lighting design tell us as much as a thousand words?
Yes, Josef von Sternberg’s films can easily prove that. Lighting, however, is just one element of a complex art form, but so are words!

Does ambiguity make art less relatable?
To unambiguous people, it may. But to value art only in terms of our relatability or identification makes for very poor aesthetic experiences.

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Iranian artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Close-Up, a film directed by Abbas Kiarostami. A tabloid-content, real-life story of identity theft becomes a complex film choosing ethics over morality, and forgiveness over judgement.

Which Mexican artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Él, a film directed by Luis Buñuel. An exploration of a jealous husband’s escalating paranoia and grandeur of delirium through an absorbing narrative and tight direction.

Which Portuguese artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Transe, a film directed by Teresa Villaverde. A harsh plunge into the mental states by which a woman endures a degrading journey across the sex trafficking market of globalised Europe.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

What is your greatest artistic discovery, and why?
Activities (such as criticism or teaching) consisting of transmitting or expanding the love and knowledge about art can be themselves an art.

What question would you like to ask our other interviewees?
Pick four artworks belonging to different artistic fields that you would combine in order to create a piece of your own.

More to discover

Cristina Álvarez López: Visit Cristina Álvarez López's website here. Read her collected contributions to Fandor Keyframe and MUBI Notebook.

Today's recommendations: The Invention of Morel (GoodReads page), The Silence of the Sea (trailer), Lewis Carroll (full essay), Sun (full story), Close-Up (trailer), Él (trailer), Transe (trailer).

Read more: Interviews with filmmakers