Best photojournalism arrives in Siem Reap

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Winner of the World Press Photo of the Year comes courtesy of Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt. Ronaldo Schemidt/afp

More than 100 striking images celebrating this year’s best in photojournalism opened in Siem Reap this week as part of a travelling exhibition showcasing images from around the world.

Held as part of the 14th annual Angkor Photo Festival, the World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 is visiting Siem Reap for the second time as part of a worldwide tour of 100 cities in 45 countries.

Having opened on Friday, the exhibition will run until January 7 at the Mirage Contemporary Art Space in Siem Reap.

On display are 161 award-winning images selected from the World Press Photo Contest, a prestigious annual photojournalism contest celebrating the best images in the field from the past year.

Event coordinator Claire Taddei said this year’s World Press Photo Contest gained 4,548 applicants from 125 countries with a combined total of 73,044 images. The jury gave prizes in eight categories to 42 photographers from 22 countries.

Photographers featured in the contest hail from Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and Venezuela.

Festival director Jessica Lim said that while no Cambodian photographer is featured this year, she expressed hope that there would still be a profound impact on the local community.

“We hope that the incredible variety of work will serve to inspire the community and Cambodia’s emerging generation of photographers and storytellers."

“I also think it is crucial for them to feel connected with global issues and the wider international community,” she said.

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A photo entitled Finding Freedom in the Water by American journalist Anna Boyiazis. Anna Boyiazis

Exhibition manager and curator Yi Wen Hsia said: “This year we, unfortunately, did not receive any entries from Cambodia. But the value of local photojournalism and perspective is incredibly important and cannot be understated.

“That is why we are very happy to be back again with our annual exhibition in Siem Reap . . . not only to promote and support photojournalism in the world but also to inspire and encourage local talent in Cambodia to send in their work.”

One of the exhibition’s most breathtaking images – and winner of the World Press Photo of the Year – comes courtesy of Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt, who captured an image of an anti-government protestor in flames during the Venezuelan political crisis in May last year.

Amid violent clashes with police, he caught fire after the petrol tank of a nearby motorbike exploded.

Also celebrated was American journalist Anna Boyiazis, whose moving collection of images, Finding Freedom in the Water, featuring young women in conservative Islamic Zanzibar learning how to swim, won in the People and Stories category.

Mirage Contemporary Art Space director Serey Siv said he was extremely happy to display the images at his gallery.

“I am delighted, especially as a Cambodian, to bring the World Press Photo Exhibition to the country. I believe it will initiate a lot of discussion between locals on photography in general."

“Photography is still quite new to the Kingdom, so I hope this exhibition will inspire the next generation of Cambodian photographers,” he said.

The 14th annual Angkor Photo Festival is the longest running festival of its kind in Southeast Asia and will run until December 18 in various art spaces across Siem Reap town.