The conflict in Ukraine was at the heart of six of the ten award-winning reports at the Bayeux Calvados Normandy War Correspondents Awards this weekend. The civil revolution in Sudan and the plight of women in Afghanistan and Burkina Faso also drew praise from the jury.
“It’s really important that this story be visible. It’s heartbreaking, it’s our life, our people. It’s important that journalists give them a voice.” Evgeniy Maloletka’s words were all but drowned out by applause from a standing ovation.
The work of the young Ukrainian photographer during the siege of Mariupol earned him the Nikon Photo trophy at the Prix Bayeux Calvados Normandie for war correspondents. His work was chosen by an international jury chaired by Thomas Dworzak.
Maloletka’s photograph of an injured pregnant woman carried on a stretcher by Ukrainian rescue workers after a maternity hospital was bombed in early March has been seen around the world. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.
Maloletka’s work is inseparable from that of his colleague, friend and Ukrainian compatriot, Mstyslav Chernov, who won the Bayeux Image Video trophy (awarded by Arte, France Télévisions and France 24), as well as second prize in the category short format television (Amnesty International) for his work in Mariupol.
They were the only two journalists to witness and document the tragedy that unfolded at the start of the attack on the southern city. Their images and videos for the Associated Press dispelled any doubt about the scale of the carnage caused by the Russian bombings.
“The history of the war is complex. It is not over. Let’s hope that our work will change something and help to end this war,” Chernov solemnly told the audience. Their work is exhibited to the public at Bayeux Tapestry Chapel until the end of October.
The African continent not forgotten
African conflicts were not forgotten among the award-winning subjects this year, with reports from Sudan and Burkina Faso which caught the attention of the Jury.
British correspondent Philip Cox’s documentary “The Spider-man of Sudan” for The Guardian won the Large Format Television Trophy, sponsored by the International Crisis Group.
After seeing the revolutionary’s colorful and acrobatic antics on social media in 2021, Cox decided to investigate.
The result is a surprising and moving report that elicits smiles and a few giggles, without taking anything away from the seriousness of the subject.
Spider-man cheers up
Based in Sudan since 2004, Cox has had time to build strong relationships with the Sudanese. That sense of ease carries over to the documentary in which he follows “Spidey” on his motorbike through protests and revolutionary council meetings, wearing his signature red and blue outfit.
Spidey takes selfies with the crowd, hugs the children, but in his quieter moments he mourns the death of a close friend on the front lines of the civil uprising. He was killed when soldiers fired into crowds gathered in Khartoum.
Sudan has been in the throes of a political and social crisis since street protests in 2019 prompted the ousting of longtime leader Omar al Bashir. Then, in October 2021, a coup overthrew the Transitional Civil Administration, again sparking protests.
“The real story is about a young scientist working with children, teaching them to have confidence in themselves. It’s a positive story,” Cox explained to the public who came to watch the French premiere in Bayeux on Sunday morning.
“Anyone who stands up to oppression is a hero,” Spidey declares in the film, dismissing the idea of being singled out. It’s just his way of joining the fight. Why a spider? He refers to a story he heard about the Prophet Muhammad who was once saved by a spider.
“I hope one day a spider will save me,” he says.
Also devoted to the uprising in Sudan, the Franco-Syrian journalist Abdulmonam Eassa won the Young Reporter of Photography trophy (awarded by Crédit Agricole Normandie) for his report “The peaceful rage does not die”.
Youth are at the heart of the revolution, and Eassa’s eye allows us to travel through the crowds, capturing the anger and energy as well as the violence and destruction.
Displaced women suffer in silence
The First Prize in the written press category (awarded by the Department of Calvados) was awarded to the Burkinabe journalist Mariam Ouedraogo for her report “The road to hell for internally displaced women” for Éditions Sidwaya.
Joining the awards ceremony by video call from Ouagadougou, the young woman struggled to hide her emotion. She expressed her gratitude for the exposure the award will bring to the conflict.
Ouedraogo’s report focuses on women who have been forced to flee their homes because of jihadist attacks, but then find themselves attacked by other militias.
The six majors exhibitions of the Bayeux Calvados Normandy War Correspondents Prize are open to the public until 30 October.