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13 / 05 / 2016
Last year in Perpignan, there was a feeling of bubbling energy. Lamentations about the press not producing enough photojournalistic reports appeared to be a thing of the past. We felt a genuine sense of enthusiasm: new ways to keep on working had to be found, and while there were no firm or concrete solutions, there were still ideas aplenty, and promises aplenty. There were more grants and awards, including Visa pour l'Image awards. In 2015, photographers received prizemoney totaling more than 133 000 euros [US$153 000].
And we have further evidence of this level of vitality when we look at the number of proposals received for the 2016 Festival.
This year has been dominated by two major and recurring stories.
Terrorist attacks. Whether in Beirut, Istanbul, Ouagadougou, Bamako, Baghdad, Mogadishu, Paris or Brussels (Alas, the list is not complete), reports have featured the same pictures, the same scenes of horror.
And migrants. We would need to go back to the crisis in Kosovo to find similar numbers of reports on such a humanitarian disaster. The figures are simply staggering, and it is impossible to reduce everything to statistics. There are those who have managed to cross the Mediterranean, ending up in vast, sprawling camps, in appalling and intolerable conditions. There are those, and so many of them, who have died in their bid to reach Europe. And Western powers have stood by, powerless to deal with the dramatic situation.
In September last year, the photograph of a little boy named Aylan sent shockwaves around the world. But what tangible results are there? Nothing in the way of a real policy to deal with the problems that drive people to abandon everything and risk their lives. Nothing in the way of a real policy to deal with the humanitarian crisis of refugees and migrants in Europe. It would have been good if the politicians had reacted the way photographers did. Well, I can always dream, can't I?
April 25, 2016