Film Title (Original): Araya
Film Title (Spanish): Araya
Film Title (In English): Araya
Country Of Origin: Venezuela/France
Year Of Completion: 1959
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Format/Color/Bw: Ntsc Digibeta/Betasp/Dvd B&W
Language: Spanish
Rating: NR (but would be G)
Director: Margot Benacerraf
Executive Producers: Margot Benacerraf
Producers: Margot Benacerraf
Screenwriter: Margot Benacerraf and Pierre Seghers
Camera: Giuseppe Nisoli
Editor: Pierre Jalluad and Francine Grübert
In Manicuare: The Pereda Family (night workers in the salt marshes)
In El Rincón: The Ortiz Family (fishermen)
Araya: The Salazar Family (salt harvesters)

International Critics’ Prize: 1959 Cannes Film Festival

Award of the Higher Technical Commission of French Cinema: Cannes Film Festival

Margot BenacerrafMargot Benacerraf. Though self-described as small in stature and with only two films to her name, Margot Benacerraf is one of the giants in Latin American Cinema. Born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1926, she has been an important inspiration and mentor to artists, writers and filmmakers around the world. Her first film, Reverón, is a poetic study of the legendary and eccentric Venezuelan artist. Her second film, Araya, also won a Higher Technical Commission’s Award at Cannes for its exceptional cinematic qualities.


This 50th anniversary restoration of Margot Benacerraf’s brilliant 1959 tone poem Araya is a dazzling revelation from the Venezuelan cinema. Boasting a stunning richness of image, sheer poetry of sound and visuals, it shows a profound respect for the people of Araya, an arid peninsula in the country’s northeast.

The film portrays a day in the life of three families living in Araya, one of the harshest places on earth. For 450 years, the region’s salt was manually collected and stacked into glowing white pyramids. Benacerraf captures the grueling work of these salineros in breathtaking high-contrast black-and-white images. The Pereda family toils all night in the salt marshes. In the morning, the Salaz clan arrives to load and stack the crystals under the hot brutal sun. Down the coastline, the Ortiz family fish and tend their nets, while the youngest member, Carmen, collects seashells and coral.

Meticulously planned as a composition in which cinematography, music, sound and language combine to create a moving and magical exploration of a desolate place and the remarkable people who lived there, Araya won the International Critics’ Prize at the1959 Cannes Film Festival.

III Dominican Republic Global Film Festival - 2009