In 1959, ARAYA shared the prestigious International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. But for fifty years, the film was largely overlooked and forgotten, until Milestone's theatrical release in 2009. Critics and audiences were stunned by the glowing cinematography, powerful story and the passionate love for the culture that director Margot Benacerraf had captured so many decades before. Although critics in the 1950s compared ARAYA to Robert Flaherty's Man of Aran, Benacerraf never intended to make a documentary. The film was meticulously planned as a tone poem in which image, music, sound and language combine to create a moving and magical exploration of a desolate place and the remarkable people who lived there. Benacerraf's cinematic tour de force explores a day in the lives of three families living in Araya, an arid peninsula in northeastern Venezuela. For centuries, since its discovery by the Spanish, the region's salt was collected and stacked into radiant white pyramids. Benacerraf captured breathtaking and unforgettable images, from the saliñeros toiling to build the mountains of salt, to fishermen hauling in huge teeming nets, to a young girl and her grandmother laying flowers of shells on windswept graves.