Thu, 11 Mar 1999

Best of the best from the World Press Photo winners

JAKARTA (JP): The jury in the 1999 World Press Photo competition selected a black-and-white shot of a young woman in shock at the funeral of a KLA commander near Izbica, Kosovo, for the top spot in the contest.

The jury's decision to honor the work of Dayna Smith of The Washington Post is of course debatable.

Without a detailed caption, the portrait would be just a plain, boring snap.

The focus of the shot is a grieving Albanian woman along with two other women and two males attempting to calm her down on a drizzling funereal day.

For many, the magnitude of this portrait is of course unclear.

Perhaps, the sobbing eyes of the woman and the poignant surroundings have captured the hearts of the jury.

For this honor, Dayna is entitled to receive a check of 15,000 Dutch guilders, approximately Rp 64.5 million, to be handed over to her in a ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk in the Netherlands on April 19.

First prize winners in each of the 18 categories in the contest are to receive an award and a check of 2,500 guilders.

The winning pictures in the latest contest were picked by a panel of 13 chaired by David Burnett from Contact Press Images of the United States.

Burnett was accompanied by panel members Shahidul Alam, director of Drik Picture Library in Bangladesh, Pablo Bartholomew, a photographer of Gamma Liasion, Robin Comley, picture editor of The Star in South Africa, Peter Dejong, a photographer of The Associated Press in the Netherlands, Michael Evstafiev, Reuters photographer in Russia, Mark Grosset, director of Agence de Presse Rapho in France, Roberto Koch, director of Agenzia Contrasto in Italy, Witold Krassowski, a photographer of Network Photographers in Poland, Monica Maia, picture editor of Agencia Estado in Brazil, Alain Mingam, former editor-in-chief of Figaro magazine in France, Monika Rettschnick, picture editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine magazine in Germany, and Sven-Erik Sjoberg, a photographer of Dagens Nyheter in Sweden.

Not all major world events in 1998 were represented in the winning shots.

There was, for example, no shot of the trial of Malaysia's sacked deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim which has been accompanied by massive street rallies.

But the world-class Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal could be represented by a photo series entitled "Washington Babylon" by The Washington Post photographer Michael S. Williamson which won the third place in the People in the News Stories category.

One of the beautiful shots shows the U.S. president sitting alone next to the official presidential podium, dreaming of something with his right hand on his chin.

The other highly attractive prize-winning shots in the photo contest include the photo series of "Illegal Chinese Immigrants in New York".

One shot illustrates a Chinese immigrant wearing only his underpants sitting on a modest terrace of an upper story of a building in New York, his right hand holding chopsticks, while his left hand cups a bowl to his mouth.

The man takes up only one-third of the print. The remainder on the left shows the busy traffic and buildings of New York.

The work of Taiwanese Chien-Chi Chang of Magnum Photos won the first prize in the Daily Life Stories category.

The other brilliant shots include the low-speed picture of a museum worker in Argentina carrying the painting of Monalisa which covers the upper part of his body. The "Inauguration of the Musee Imaginaire, Barcelona" by Tino Soriano from Aurora grabbed the top prize in the Arts Singles category.

The other winning pictures are of South Korean riot police falling down from a crane, Israeli troops firing their guns towards Palestinians and Palestinians pelting stones at the Israelis, the rescue work at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Hurricane Mitch in Honduras and Nicaragua, catastrophe in Sudan, the war zones in Kosovo, and IRA veterans.

Some others illustrate AIDS patients in Thailand and Cambodia, the victims of acid throwers in Bangladesh, wrestling in Gambia, a rugby school for underprivileged children in Madagascar, partygoers at a fashion show in Tel Aviv, the drinking water problem in Dhaka, floods in Bangladesh, and whale shark hunting in Philippines waters.

As usual, a panel of children were also asked to chose their own favorite shot.

This year they opted for the picture of a Serb policeman offering water to ethnic Albanian villagers at Glodjane in Kosovo, a shot taken by AP photographer Srdjan Ilic, as the 1999 World Press Photo Children's Award winner. (bsr)