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.