Finalist, Sony Impact Award for Current AffairsSponsored by Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs

Alexander Houghton (British/Peruvian)

Filmed in October 2017, Venezuela

Venezuela: Smuggling Dreams

Pacha Films for Al Jazeera Witness

In a remote village along the Gulf of Paria, eastern Venezuela, a combination of scarcity and rampant inflation has forced many Venezuelans to seek desperate measures. With no end in sight to the country's political and economic crises under President Nicolas Maduro, food and other necessities are increasingly smuggled over from Trinidad and Tobago. In this film shot in October 2017, Alexander follows Jhan, a local fisherman, trapped in a state of limbo with few options available to him, who sees an opportunity to provide for his daughter and diabetic father by joining the contraband trade. 

Alexander, or "Lali", is a documentary filmmaker and self-shooting producer with a Masters in Periodical Journalism from the London College of Communications. Lali has spent the last eleven years in Latin America covering a range of stories; from religious sects involved in the drug trade (Vice: Cocaine and Faith in the Amazon) to an 'uncontacted' tribe coming out of isolation (Netflix: Lost Tribe of the Amazon). With Pacha Films he is part of an investigative journalism team that have filmed various documentaries for Al-Jazeera, BBC, Discovery, History Channel, Channel 4 TV and Vice, amongst others. He is presently directing his fourth Al-Jazeera Witness, this time in Burkina Faso. 

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Judges Comments

“What really stood out in Alexander’s film was the quality of his camerawork. It was incredibly lyrical, almost poetic in places, for a story that was really about very difficult circumstances. He lets scenes play out on their own, working with the actuality of it. We loved the rich and visual way in which he told Jhan’s story. It was a unique choice of story - not the usual story that you hear from Venezuela."