In its 35th year, Visa pour l’image reflects on the future of photojournalism.

The International Festival of Photojournalism takes place in the city of Perpignan in the south of France until September 17 and includes 24 photo exhibitions.

The photo, taken by an anonymous photographer, appeared on the official poster of the 35th International Festival of Photojournalism Visa pour l’image.


It depicts an Iranian woman standing on the roof of a car with her long brown hair exposed and raising her hands in triumph as thousands of people walk towards the Aichi cemetery where she is buried. Mahsa Amini.

The photograph captures the unprecedented public uprising that followed the death of a young woman on September 16, 2022 at the hands of the Iranian morale police, as well as the government crackdown that resulted in the arrest of tens of thousands of protesters.

It is also symbolic of the impossible task of covering the story in photographs, as the Iranian government has denied visas to foreign reporters and local journalists have been arrested and charged with espionage.

While Iran’s crackdown on journalists means there is little official photographic evidence of the start of the uprising, the head of Visa pour l’image said that was no reason not to talk about the story at the festival.

“If we had waited for the work of photojournalists, this year we would not have an exhibition dedicated to Iran,” Jean-Francois Leroy told _Euronews Culture, “so the choice fell on me, due to the importance that I consider these events, and because of that there was no other way to do it.

I do not know of any professional photojournalist who has managed to cover these events in Iran.”

The resulting exhibition, titled “Insurrection in Iran: You Won’t Die,” is a rare sight at the world’s leading photojournalism festival: it contains more amateur than professional photos, many of them pixelated, with video shot on flimsy mobile phones of local residents. citizens.

One of the videos featured in the exhibition is viral, showing Iranian girls dancing to Selena Gomez’s “Calm Down”.

Disturbing images

Videos showing key moments of the uprising filmed by the Iranians are being projected in one of the rooms, some of which appeared in long reportbelonging French newspaper Le Monde February.

Visitors often leave the theater with a sigh, because the intensity of filming weighs on many of them.

“I didn’t manage to see all this,” said Delphine Dumanua, who was traveling to the festival by night bus from Germany, “it was too exciting, but such shots are necessary, they help to wake up from the numbness of everyday life.”


said EuronewsCulture it was the second time she attended the photojournalism festival, which takes place every year in the city of Perpignan in southwestern France.

Iran, creative solutions to press freedom restrictions

Iran’s exhibition was curated by a team of photo editors and journalists from Le Monde, as part of the ongoing coverage of the Iranian uprising.

This is a testament to the tenacity of the newspaper staff, relentless resistance Iranian people and a deep determination to tell a story that the authorities wanted to hide.

Among the professional photographers who took part in the exhibition, many preferred to remain anonymous for fear of arrest: some used pseudonyms to protect their identity.

“We left the choice to the photographers,” said EuronewsCulture photo editor Le Monde, Mari Sumalla – but most of the people who sent us the most recent photos and covered this story in detail asked to use their real names – I think that’s great.”


Sumallah worked closely with Le Monde Iranian specialist Ghazal Golshini and other Iranian journalists in Europe to review and curate home-grown material and photographs for regular coverage in the paper and for the exhibition.

Some of the photographers who participated in the exhibition said they did not even save the original files on their hard drives for fear of arrest.

“We were a little upset that everything we did was ultimately only temporary,” the photographer said, “what we published on the Le Monde website will remain, the exhibition will run for two weeks, but we wanted to write about this moment in ink because whether we like it or not, this moment is history, this uprising is unprecedented.”

The solution was to publish a small photobook that collected all the various images published since the beginning of the uprising.

The title “You Don’t Die” is inspired by the epitaph that Mahsa Amini’s uncle wrote on his tombstone: “Dear Gina (Kurdish girl’s name), you don’t die, your name will become a symbol.”


Bringing peace to Perpignan

The silence is one of the most striking aspects of Visa pour l’image: visitors walked through the halls of the Couvent Des Minimes, the restored 16th-century convent that serves as the festival’s main exhibition space, and barely spoke.

People come from all over the world to see the exhibits (24 in total this year) that highlight some of the world’s most current news, from the war in Ukraine and the rise of the far right in the United States to disenfranchisement in Afghanistan. and the devastating effects of climate change.

“Coming here gives me a new perspective and a new perspective on the stories I see on the news,” said Claudia, a 29-year-old journalist who traveled to the festival from Girona, Spain. “It’s a chance to remember things I’ve forgotten.” and discover new places and cultures that I didn’t even know existed.”

“We have to learn everything little by little,” said Daniel, 82, from Bordeaux. “I get the impression that the world is sad, but it’s important to stay on top of things that the mainstream media doesn’t cover often.”

While the Iranian exhibition features amateur photographers, festival director Leroy insists that the work of professional photojournalists is still vital to reporting what is really going on in the world.

“Of course everyone can take pictures, but there are still very few photographers,” he said. “For me, a photojournalist starts, knows what he wants to do, has an idea of ​​the story he wants to tell.

Meanwhile, someone with a smartphone may or may not accidentally take a photo, but it’s not a story, it’s just a series of moments captured on camera.”

Leroy is the founder and leader of Visa for the past 34 years, keeping the event as one of the top photojournalism events of the year: he says he doesn’t encourage photographers, especially young ones, to take unnecessary risks to get a shock effect.

“When I see all the young journalists who went to Ukraine without insurance, without the support of a magazine or newspaper, I think it’s stupid to take such risks.”

Leroy said that this year he received 250 exhibition offers from Ukraine and refused to consider those where the photojournalist worked without insurance.

Moreover, he acknowledges that photojournalism is in crisis today, with newspapers and magazines producing and paying less, and there are concerns about the potential impact of artificial intelligence, which he says is not a problem.

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