FIRST PRIZE: César Dezfuli

César Dezfuli

From the series Passengers
Inkjet print, August 2016
First Prize £15,000

On 1 August 2016, more than one hundred people were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea, twenty nautical miles from the Libyan coast. On board the rescue vessel, photojournalist César Dezfuli was documenting the plight of migrants as they tried to escape war, persecution and poverty. The portrait shows Amadou Sumaila, a sixteen-year-old from Mali, who was later transferred to a reception centre in Italy. ‘I think Amadou’s portrait stands out because of the emotions it transmits,’ says Dezfuli. ‘He had just been rescued by a European vessel, apparently fulfilling his dream. However, his look and his attitude show fear, mistrust and uncertainty, as well as determination and strength.’

César Dezfuli (b.1991) graduated in journalism and audio-visual communication from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain followed by a postgraduate qualification in photojournalism. His work documenting human rights issues has been published in numerous magazines and has been seen in group exhibitions in 2017 including First Prize in the Head On Photo Festival 2017 Portrait Category, and awards at the International Photographer of the Year Awards and the Moscow Foto Awards.

Judges Comments: Against the balance and precision of Dezfuli’s composition, the directness of Sumaila’s gaze is striking and unsettling. The portrait powerfully conveys his loss, solitude and determination.