The town of Papayal is located in the Amazon jungle. It is ruled by violence, greed and vice. It has grown around mines where gold is extracted, and where mercury has severely destroyed the... See full summary »


(as José Ramón Novoa)


1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Rocío Miranda ...
Laureano Olivares ...
Cae (as Laureano Olivarez)
Armando Gota ...
Pedro Lander ...
Alberto Rowinsky ...
Jenny Noguera ...
Roberto Hernández ...
Jeannette Lehr ...
Carolina López ...
María Cecilia Oduber ...
Selva (as Maria C. Oduber)
Pastor González ...
Ringo García ...
Juan Carlos Alarcón ...
Fellini's Assistant
José Abreu ...
Oswaldo López ...


The town of Papayal is located in the Amazon jungle. It is ruled by violence, greed and vice. It has grown around mines where gold is extracted, and where mercury has severely destroyed the environment. Apart from the local bar and brothel, the settlers have nothing to do but work on the mines. Every once in a while a man called Fellini arrives and projects films. One day the mother of teenager Isabel and her lover steal the gold from miner El Gallego and flee from Papayal. The girl is forced to pay their debt, by working on the brothel. Isabel tries to escape, but she is caught by the police, and meets Cae, a young man who is bought by a trader to work in the gold mines. Back on Papayal, Isabel falls in love with Cae, who tells her that both her mother and her lover have been killed. Written by Edgar Soberón Torchia <>

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Action | Crime | Drama | Romance






Release Date:

13 June 2000 (Venezuela)  »

Also Known As:

Devil Gold  »

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Did You Know?


In Fall of 2000, the film was selected as the official Venezuelan submission to the 2001 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language film category. See more »


Featured in El Don (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Love, gold and ecology

With `Oro diablo' (also known as `Garimpeiros'), José Novoa ends a trilogy started in 1994 with `Sicario', followed in 1998 by `Huelepega'. The trilogy is an effort to illustrate the everyday life of children and adolescents hit by extreme poverty in Latin America: in `Sicario' he dealt with the problems of Colombian children exposed to drug traffic; and in `Huelepega' he showed the children of the street in Caracas, who are led to the cheapest and fastest way to `get high', by smelling glue. Now in `Oro diablo' he deals with the hopelessness of those who work in the gold mines in the Amazon jungle of Venezuela, or who live in towns that spurt around the mines, where violence is the way of living, workers are exploited and death rules.

`Oro diablo' also exposes the unpunished ecological devastation of the zone, produced by the savage exploitation of the gold mines, the toxic use of mercury and the silence of local governments.

Novoa's style owes both to action film and ethnographic documentary. His working method starts with the investigation of each subject matter, by which he collects direct information from the people who experience it. This time writer Sonia Chocrón, who wrote the screenplay, assisted him. Then he works with the children and teenagers, and somehow he manages to extract credible performances that harmonize with those of his professional cast: such are the cases of Laureano Olivares, who was in `Sicario', and Rocío Miranda, who plays Isabel, the leading character of `Oro diablo'.

In Papayal, a town near a gold mine, Isabel's mother and her lover flee after stealing gold from a miner. Isabel is forced to pay the debt, but she runs away. After being caught by the police, she meets Cae (Olivares), a young man who is bought by a trader of cheap labor, and taken to the mine nearby Papayal. Isabel is forced to work in the town's brothel, where she is raped by ruthless Mooligan (Roberto Hernández), who also becomes her protector. But Isabel and Cae fall in love, and she discovers her mother has been killed.

After watching the film, Colombian filmmaker Víctor Gaviria's work come to mind: "Rodrigo D: No futuro" and `La vendedora de rosas'. Both want to make popular cinema to be seen by as many persons as possible. But while Gaviria is a poet, Novoa makes too many commercial concessions, which determine the product: `Oro diablo' is a film with a very simple and direct structure, with elements of social melodrama, adventure film, a bit of shock and a lot of sex, so the big audiences can relate with the story. Many dramatic situations are given formulaic solutions, distracting from its social, psychological and economic implications, while his composer Francisco Cabrujas overemphasizes what the image has already showed. Nevertheless Novoa has a good sense of rhythm; he moves on and leads you along the story, benefiting from the sympathy of Miranda and Olivares, and efficient cinematography by Óscar Pérez.

Although it is asking the film what it is not (mainly) about, our major complaint about `Oro diablo' is its too superficial approach to the ecological situation. When the world nations expend millions in their glamorous meetings, they all promise to save the children and planet Earth. But as soon as the delegates board their planes, everything is forgotten. In the overexploitation of resources (such as gold, in Panamá and the Amazon jungle), a good many of those dignitaries who sign agreements, are involved in the destruction of the planet, through private entrepreneurial involvement in the exploitations. In `Oro diablo' it is only suggested by a European photographer who flies above the mines, and evacuates the settlers.

But `Oro diablo' is more about human relations in a problematic situation, than a political thriller. In spite of its shortcomings, it is an effective, entertaining and very revealing film.

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