DER Documentary

Floating Market

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By Joan Kaufman
color, 53 min, 2003

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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For many decades, hundreds of Venezuelan men in search of economic opportunity have sailed forty miles across the Caribbean from Venezuela to the island of Curaçao in small wooden boats to sell tropical fruits and vegetables in Curaçao's floating market, leaving behind their families in the coastal fishing villages of Venezuela for months at a time. Continuing a tradition passed down from father to son for generations, they form a Venezuelan community along the quays of downtown Willemstad, capital of Curaçao. They have created a vibrant and enduring market culture in Curaçao that helps support the Venezuelan villages, while providing fresh produce to this arid island.

Floating Market follows the stories of several sailors and their families, from the perilous nighttime crossing, through the months the men spend living on their boats and selling produce to locals and tourists, to their joyful homecomings. It gradually delves beneath the bright surface of colorful boats floating in a picturesque tropical setting to explore the subculture of men, isolated on their boats, yet always on display. The men come as itinerant workers to this Dutch island. They are a part of Curaçao, yet set apart by language, customs, and culture. They form a brotherhood in Curaçao that gives them a sense of home and community, while they maintain ties with their families in Venezuela via supply boats that arrive daily to restock the boats with fresh produce, and to bring news, letters, and packages from home. Meanwhile, in Venezuela, the men's wives run their households and raise their children alone without the support of their husbands during the eight months of the year that the men are away.

Curaçaoans are divided between their love for the market's tradition and tourist appeal and their resentment of its problems - harbor pollution, smuggling, and frequent shipwrecks. Because of stiff competition from the recent proliferation of chain supermarkets, the future of the market itself is uncertain.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
World Premiere, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2003
Curaçao Premiere, Villarena, Willemstad, Curaçao 2003
Boston Latino International Film Festival, 2004
Chicago Latino Film Festival, 2005
Curaçao Maritime Museum, Willemstad, Curaçao, screenings in 2004 and 2005

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts