World Press Photo 2021, Denmark's Mads Nissen wins. Three first prizes for Italy

The winners of the World Press Photo 2021 have been announced: Danish Mads Nissen triumphs, the fifth photographer in history to win the award twice. Italy is, along with the U.S., the country with the most first places: three wins in the various categories.

Danish photographer Mads Nissen (Hobro, 1979) is the winner of the 2021 edition of the Photo of the Year at World Press Photo, the world’s most prestigious photojournalism award. The photograph with which Nissen won the coveted prize is The First Embrace and, as you might imagine, it is an image of the Covid-19 pandemic that shocked the world in 2020: it is a portrait of a resident of the Viva Bem nursing home in São Paulo, Brazil, Rosa Luzia Lunardi (85) being hugged by nurse Silva da Costa Souza in the facility’s hug room. “For me, it’s a story of love and hope in these very difficult times,” Nissen said. “When I heard about the ongoing crisis in Brazil and the poor leadership of President Bolsonaro, who neglected the virus from the beginning since it was little more than a flu for him, I really felt the need to do something.”

“This iconic image of Covid-19,” said Kevin WY Lee, photographer and creative director of the Best Photo competition at World Press Photo 2021, “offers a testament to one of the most extraordinary moments in our lives, anywhere. I read in it vulnerability, affection for loved ones, loss and separation, ruin but also, and more importantly, survival, all brought together in one image. If you look at it long enough, you see wings: a symbol of flight and hope.”

The podium is compltated by Joshua Irwandi’s (Indonesia) second-place The Human Cost of Covid-19, an image of the body of a suspected coronavirus victim wrapped in plastic in an Indonesian hospital, and Newsha Tavakolian’s (Iran) third-place Ceremony to mourn Qasem Soleimani in Tehran, depicting a moment at the funeral of General Soleimani, who was killed at Baghdad airport on Jan. 3, 2020. With the 2021 win, Nissen becomes one of the rare photographers to have won World Press Photo twice: in fact, he had already succeeded in 2015 with the photo Homophobia in Russia, a portrait of a gay couple in an intimate moment. Before him the double had succeeded only to Japan’s Kyoichi Sawada (1965 and 1966) and Americans David Turnley (1989 and 1992), James Nachtwey (1993 and 1995) and Anthony Suau (1988 and 2009). For Denmark it is the fifth victory in history: moreover, the first edition, in 1955, was won by another Dane, Mogens von Haven.

Italy, which traditionally always performs very well at World Press Photo, won the World Press Photo Story of the Year, dedicated to photographic series: triumphing in the category is Antonio Faccilongo (Rome, 1979) with Habibi, a reportage that tells love stories against the backdrop of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Faccilongo’s story thus tells the impact of the war on Palestinian families and the difficulties they have in developing their intimate relationships and seeing their dignity guaranteed. “My work,” Faccilongo said, “has the ambition of being a cultural bridge to bring people together.” “This year,” said NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati of the jury, “we wanted to find something that digs deep: this work looks at the past, the present, and in some ways the future as well.” In the category where Faccilongo (Long-Term Projects) won, second place was taken by Reborn by Karolina Jonderko (Poland) and third by Trapped in Greece by Angelos Tzortzinis (Greece).

For Italy, it was an excellent edition: together with the U.S., our country is in fact the one that reported the most wins in the individual categories (three: in addition to Faccilongo, Gabriele Galimberti won in the Stories - Portraits section and Lorenzo Tugnoli in the Stories - Spot News section). Here are the awardees in all single photo categories. Contemporary issues: 1. Yemen: Hunger, Another War Wound by Pablo Tosco (Argentina), 2. Doctor Peyo and Mister Hassen by Jérémy Lempin (France), 3. Resting Soldier by Vaghinak Ghazaryan (Aremani). Environment: 1. California Sea Lion Plays with Mask by Ralph Pace (USA), 2. Temple and Half-Mountain by Hkun Lat (Myanmar), 3. Climate Crisis Solutions: Collecting Drinking Water in Kalabogi by KM Asad (Bangladesh). Nature: 1. Rescue of Giraffes from Flooding Island by Ami Vitale (USA), 2. Path of the Panther by Carlton Ward Jr. (USA), 3. New Life by Jaime Culebras (Spain). Portraits: 1. The Transition: Ignat by Oleg Ponomarev (Russia), 2. COVID-19 First Responder by Iván Macías (Mexico), 3. In Flight by Tatiana Nikitina (Russia). Sports: 1. Log Pile Bouldering by Adam Pretty (Australia), 2. Home Training by Stephen McCarthy (Ireland), 3. Tour of Poland Cycling Crash by Tomasz Markowski (Poland). Spot News: 1. Emancipation Memorial Debate by Evelyn Hockstein (USA), 2. Waiting for Release at a Temporary Detention Center in Belarus by Nadia Buzhan (Belarus), 3. Forest Fire by Nuno André Ferreira (Portugal).

Finally, the awardees in stories, i.e., reportage with photographic series. Contemporary Issues: 1. Sakhawood by Alexeij Vasilijev (Russia), 2. Islamic State’s Yazidi Survivors by Maya Alleruzzo (USA), 3. The Aftermath of the North East Delhi Riots by Zishaan A Latif (India). Environment: 1. Pantanal Ablaze by Lalo de Almeida (Brazil), 2. One Way to Fight Climate Change: Make Your Own Glaciers, 3. Inside the Spanish Pork Industry: The Pig Factory of Europe by Aitor Garmendia (Spain). General News: 1. Paradise Lost by Valerij Melnikov (Russia), 2. Cross-Border Love by Roland Schmid (Switzerland), 3. Covid-19 Pandemic in France by Laurence Geai (France). Nature: 1. Pandemic Pigeons-A Love Story by Jasper Doest (Netherlands), 2. The Volcano Eruption by Ezra Acayan (Philippines), 3. Locust Invasion in East Africa by Luis Tato (Spain). Portraits: 1. The “Ameriguns” by Gabriele Galimberti (Italy), 2. Nowhere Near by Alisa Martynova (Russia), 3. Niewybuch by Natalia Kepesz (Poland). Sports: 1. Those Who Stay Will Be Champions by Chris Donovan (Canada), 2. Faces of bridge by Henrik Hansson (Sweden), 3. Thoughts of Flight by Fereshteh Eslahi (Iran). Spot News: 1. Port Explosion in Beirut by Lorenzo Tugnoli (Italy), 2. Presidential Vacancy by Ernesto Benavides (Peru), 3. Minneapolis Unrest: The George Floyd Aftermath by John Minchillo (USA).

Pictured is the photograph The First Embrace by Mads Nissen.

World Press Photo 2021, Denmark's Mads Nissen wins. Three first prizes for Italy
World Press Photo 2021, Denmark's Mads Nissen wins. Three first prizes for Italy

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