Araya is a peninsula in northeastern Venezuela. An arid land, the sun beats down implacably upon the salineros, the workers of Araya’s salt marshes. Salt has been mined here for almost 500 years—the ruins of a nearby fortress testify to a time past when salt was as precious as gold, creating wealth for an empire long gone. Yet the salineros toil on, their endeavours carried out in almost exactly the same manner they have been for generations.

Shot in breathtaking black and white, Araya is a lyrical account of a day in the life of the inhabitants of this land. The film follows three families: the Peredas, who work in the marshes, the Ortiz, who are fishermen, and the Salaz, who pile the salt into vast white luminous pyramids for bagging. An exploration of the intimate relationship between humans and their environment, as well as the fraught dialogue between the camera and its subject, Araya is a loving, moving tribute to a people and their ability to endure.

Araya (1959)


Venezuela, France


Spanish with Subtitles


All Ages


Margot Benacerraf

Margot Benacerraf

Margot Benacerraf was born in Caracas in 1926, and studied filmmaking in Paris. Her first film, a portrait of the Venezuelan artist Armando Reverón, premiered in 1953. Six years later she made Araya, winner of the International Critics Prize in Cannes and the first Latin American film to win a major award. In 1966 she founded Venezuela’s Cinemateca Nacional and in 1991, with Gabriel Garcia Márquez, she created Latin Fundavisual, an initiative to promote Latin American filmmaking.

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