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I can only compare the film to Visconti’s great La terra trema for its combination of extraordinary beauty, outraged social conscience and almost mythic grandeur.Stuart Klawans, The Nation
A recently rediscovered link in the lineage of poetic non-narrative cinema that runs between Man of Aran, La terra trema, and I Am Cuba, Margot Benacerraf’s Venezuelan “fresco narrated with a poetic rhythm” shared the International Critics Prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival with Hiroshima, mon amour and earned a rave review from Jean Renoir (“above all, don’t cut a single image!”). Araya, an otherworldly and strangely beautiful landscape of massive salt flats in northeastern Venezuela, provides the setting for this look at human life defined by labor, subsistence, and nature. Eschewing typical documentary realism, Araya glistens with black-and-white imagery so stark it could have been drawn directly from the salt and sea. After its premiere, Araya slipped into obscurity (except in Brazil, where Glauber Rocha credited it with inspiring Cinema Novo); this restoration brings a masterpiece of Latin American cinema back to life. “Majestic. . . . Its arresting images of sea and sky evoke a vast historical arc” (Richard Brody, New Yorker).