1st Place; Passengers by Cesar Dezfuli
On 1st August 2016, 118 people were rescued from a rubber boat drifting in the Mediterranean Sea. The boat had departed some hours prior from Libya. In an attempt to give a human face to this event, I photographed the passengers minutes after their rescue. Their faces, their looks, the marks on their bodies all reflected the mood and physical state they were in after a journey that had already marked their lives forever. It was the beginning of a project that has been evolving ever since.
It soon became clear that the people I photographed on that August day were not themselves. Their identities had become diluted somewhere along the way - hidden as a result of fear, or stolen through past abuses and humiliations.
Over the last three years I have worked to locate the 118 passengers of the boat, now scattered across Europe, in a bid to understand and document their true identities. I wanted to show that each individual had a latent identity that just needed a peaceful context in order to flourish again.