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Turmoil, Disaster, and Some Hope in 2020 World Press Photo Nominees

From protests in Hong Kong and Chile to the fires in Australia and California, see a selection of the stirring images nominated for the prestigious photojournalism award.

Mulugeta Ayene, “Relative Mourns Flight ET 302 Crash Victim,” Associated Press. A relative of a victim of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 throws dirt in her face as she grieves at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 14 March 2019 (all images are from 2019, and all are courtesy of the World Press Photo Contest) 

2019 was fraught with political unrest, growing economic inequality, and grand-scale climate catastrophes. But there was also belief in change and active resistance against tyranny and oppression in countries around the world. That’s what the stirring images nominated for the 2020 World Press Photo Contest captured yesteryear.

For the contest’s 63rd year, 44 photographers from 24 countries were selected to compete for awards in eight categories: contemporary issues, environment, general news, long­-term projects, nature, portraits, sports, and sports news.

An independent jury made up of 17 photography professionals, chaired by leading South African photographer Lekgetho Makola, selected the photos from a pool of thousands. An additional award will be given to the best World Press Photo Story of the year. The winners will be announced on April 16, and each will receive a €10,000 (~$11,400) prize.

Yasuyoshi Chiba, “Straight Voice” (2019), Agence France-Presse. A young man, illuminated by mobile phones, recites protest poetry while demonstrators chant slogans calling for civilian rule, during a blackout in Khartoum, Sudan, on 19 June.

Protest and climate change are the two major themes governing the selections. Yasuyoshi Chiba’s photograph shows Sudanese anti-government protests congregating around a chant leader who is reciting poetry during a blackout in Khartoum. The theme of popular resistance continues with Nicolas Asfouri’s dispatches from the protests in Hong Kong; Fabio Bucciarell’s series on the protests against economic inequality in Chile; and Farouk Batiche documentation of clashes between police and anti-corruption protesters in Algeria. And in a series for the New York Times, Ivor Prickett brings chilling images from the destruction that the civil war in Syria has wrought on its people and cities.

In the climate category, the fires in Australia (Sean Davey) and California (Noah Berger) provide the fiercest images. But as in every year, there are also pictures of adorable and impressive animals (a cub captured in a Lion King-style leap while escaping hunters), and fun and lovely things humans do while they’re not killing each other — like in Olivier Papegnies’s project about female soccer players in Benin.

The prize-winning photographs will be featured in a year-long exhibition that will visit 120 cities and 50 countries. The exhibition will premiere at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on April 18.

An image from Fabio Bucciarelli’s series Chile: The Rebellion Against Neoliberalism, for L’Espresso
Nicolas Asfouri, Hong Kong Unrest, Agence France-Presse. Students cross a road to school after participating in a human-chain rally, in Hong Kong, on 12 September 2019.
From Matthew Abbott’s Australia’s Bushfire Crisis, Panos Pictures for The New York Times
From Ivor Prickett’s series ISIS and its Aftermath in Syria for The New York Times
Dai Kurokawa, “Nairobi Dusit D2 Hotel Attack,” European Pressphoto Agency. Women are evacuated as security forces look out for perpetrators of an attack on the DusitD2 luxury hotel and business compound, in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15 January.
Antonio Pizarro Rodriguez, “The King of Doñana,” Diario De Sevilla. Two Iberian lynx take fright after hearing shots from a hunter’s gun, near Aznalcázar, Spain, on 3 January.
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