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MBC Interactive Archive Project: Araya

Directed by: MARGOT BENACERRAF | Venezuela | 1959 | 1h 30m | Unrated | In Spanish w/ English subtitles

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SPECIAL SCREENING: 1/30
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O Cinema South Beach

1130 Washington Ave, Miami Beach (786) 471-3269

Additional information

• Adults – $11.00
• Older Adults (62+ years old w/ valid ID) – $10.00
• Students & Teachers (w/ valid ID) – $10.00
• O Cinema Members – $7.50
• MBFS Members – FREE
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Miami Beach Film Society presents ARAYA
with live mix sound by Gabó!

The peninsula of Araya in northeastern Venezuela is one of the most arid places on earth. For five hundred years, since its discovery by the Spanish, the region’s salt has been exploited manually. A 17th-century fortress built to protect against pirate raids stands as a reminder of the days when salt was worth almost as much as gold and great fortunes were made. Benacerraf captures the life of the salineros and their back-breaking work in breathtaking images. Three family stories underline the harsh life of this region — all of which vanished with the arrival of industrial exploitation.

ARAYA was originally compared to Flaherty’s Man of Aran, Visconti’s La Terra Trema (1947) and Rossellini’s India (1957). Margot Benacerraf has described the film as “a cinematic narration based on script writing rather than a spontaneous action…the opposite of Italian neorealism.” The film is of such lasting beauty that Jean Renoir told Benacerraf after seeing the film: “Above all … don’t cut a single image!”

 

The restoration of Margot Benacerraf’s brilliant film Araya is a landmark in cinema history. The film was hailed as a masterpiece of poetic cinema and a forerunner of feminist Latina cinema on it’s re-release by Milestone.

WINNER: Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival
(Tied with Hiroshima Mon Amour)

“Majestic… Arresting… Overwhelming Beauty!”
– NEW YORKER MAGAZINE / RICHARD BRODY

“This astonishing documentary, so beautiful, so horrifying, was filmed in the late 1950s, when an old way of life had not yet ended.”
– CHICAGO SUN-TIMES / ROGER EBERT

“Margot Benacerraf’s starkly beautiful 1959 documentary Araya is the rare film whose austere stylistic impersonality is a key aspect of its elemental power.”
– ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY / OWEN GLEIBERMAN

“The movie is visually stunning, deploying fluid camerawork and stark black-and-white imagery to record the hardscrabble lives of Venezuelans living and working on a remote salt marsh.”
– AV CLUB / NOEL MURRAY