Araya
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Shown at Cannes in 1959, the year after Venezuela's last dictator Marcos Perez-Jimenez was overthrown, the documentary inadvertently highlights the kind of exploitation of the poor that can lead to rebellion. While the dictator escaped to Miami with $13 million, salt workers were piling up mounds of salt on the flat sands, making barely enough money to keep them in arepas and black beans. Between the hot, tropical climate and the sores on their feet, the job these workers do every day is excruciating. Yet the lives of the fishermen and salt workers in this documentary are shown in the… More
Directed By
© Milestone Films
Trailer
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"This expertly restored black-and-white work is a thing of wonder."
‑ Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
"Margot Benacerraf's starkly beautiful 1959 documentary Araya is the rare film whose austere stylistic impersonality is a key aspect of its elemental power."
‑ Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"Araya is a tone poem, a poetic portrait of an ancient existence in the modern world, with narration (scripted with Pierre Seghers) to match..."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Parallax View
"A Robert Flaherty type of film."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Not just an artifact of a pre-industrialized culture infiltrated by modern equipment, it's an artifact of perspective and form."
‑ Sara Maria Vizcarrondo, Boxoffice Magazine
"This astonishing documentary, so beautiful, so horrifying, was filmed in the late 1950s, when an old way of life had not yet ended."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"It cares so passionately about its subjects that you will as well."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Not a documentary in the traditional sense ... this stark black and white film has the feel of an avant-garde science-fiction opus."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"Be grateful that Araya is here, in an exquisitely restored print, with images of struggling Venezuelan peasants as luminous as the Mexican photographs of Edward Weston."
‑ Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix
"Despite its age, Araya feels as current as ever."
‑ Eric Monder, Film Journal International
"Like the late famed anthropologist Claude LÚvi-Strauss, the movie wants to find a culture and explain it to the world. Araya finds a degree of romance in that discovery, and is weaker for it."
‑ Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"Are you one of those moviegoers who likes discovering forgotten gems? Have I got a jewel for you."
‑ Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"steadily unfolds and immerses the viewer seamlessly into the daily rhythms of the people"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"A film of the simplest and most complex of working worlds. A wonderful visual poem."
‑ Ron Wilkinson, Monsters and Critics
"A quietly powerful, lyrical and visually striking documentary."
‑ Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
More reviews for Araya on Rotten Tomatoes