Once Upon a Time in Venezuela

Anabel Rodríguez Ríos

Venezuelan politics mirrored in a small floating settlement in Lake Maracaibo. Tamara is a corrupt representative from the ruling socialist party, Natalie is the local school teacher and an opposition supporter. Filmed over the course of several years, featuring breath-taking images of the lake, the village and its resilient inhabitants.

In the Venezuelan Lake Maracaibo there is a settlement built on the water: Congo Mirador. But the village is in danger. Nearby oil drilling has caused water pollution and sedimentation, which silts up the river, strangles the fishing industry and causes the houses to slide into the mud. Once upon a time, Congo Mirador counted several hundred households. Now there are only about 30 families left.

Tamara is a local businesswoman and a staunch supporter of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s socialist president who died in 2013. Natalie is the village schoolteacher, doing her best to keep her school running. She is also a supporter of the political opposition. As the 2018 national parliamentary election approaches, Tamara goes on a bribery campaign to persuade people to vote for the socialist party of Nicolás Maduro. At the same time, she tries to push Natalie out of her job. But Natalie is not planning to give up so easily.


Anabel Rodríguez Ríos
Country of production
Venezuela, Austria, Brazil, United Kingdom
99 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Golden Girls Filmproduktion
World Sales
Rise and Shine