Margot Benacerraf Dead at 97

( – Movie producers have a hefty job. They’re responsible for all of the efforts that go into a movie from beginning to end. Many fail to achieve the honor of being globally recognized, but Venezuelan producer, screenwriter, and filmmaker Margot Benacerraf is among those who did, despite having only ever produced two films. Sadly, she has passed away at the age of 97.

On Wednesday, May 29, Venezuela’s culture minister announced that Benacerraf had died, though no cause of death was listed. She left behind a storied legacy in the arts and received many honors throughout her lifetime.

Benacerraf was born in August 1926 in Caracas, Venezuela. When she attended college, she first studied literature and philosophy before turning her attention to film. She traveled to Paris to attend the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies to learn more about the craft. Afterward, she applied her knowledge in her home country, where she faced many barriers.

In the 1950s, filmmaking wasn’t widely known in Venezuela. However, Benacerraf persisted and her first film, a short work documenting the Latin American painter and sculptor Armando Reverón, aptly titled “Reverón,” was a mere 23 minutes long.

However, it was her second work of art, “Araya,” a documentary about the workers in the salt mines, that gained her national attention, though it wasn’t made available in theaters for nearly 20 years after she finished it. It would also be her last work in the production sphere. “Araya” won the International Federation of Film Critics award in 1959 at the Cannes festival, an accolade she shared with Alain Resnais’ “Hiroshima Mon Amour.”

The film was restored in 2009 for release on its 50th anniversary. Critics and others in the film industry called it a lost classic, though it was said to put people to sleep because of its slow pace.

While Benacerraf never produced another film, she remained very active in the arts and educating Venezuelans about filmmaking and worked to preserve the country’s film heritage throughout the rest of her life. In 1966, she founded the National Cinematheque of Venezuela. Then in 2018, President Nicolas Maduro bestowed upon her the Order of Francisco de Miranda, an award honoring her outstanding merit in the science and humanities field.

Copyright 2024,