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August 2009

Freelance photojournalist Justyna Mielnikiewicz has won the 2009 Canon AFJ Female Photojournalist Award for her ongoing photographic project ‘Shared Sorrow, Divided Lines’ which documents the conflicts of the Caucasus regions of the former Soviet republics.

© Justyna Mielnikiewicz

The award is sponsored by Canon France and comes with a prize of €8,000 that’s presented by the French Association of Female Journalists (AFJ) and is supported by Le Figaro magazine. Mielnikiewicz will receive her award during a special presentation on 5 September at the Visa pour l’Image international festival of photojournalism in Perpignan, France.

The prize will allow Mielnikiewicz to continue to shoot a project that dates back to 2002 and covers photographing the communities in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to depict the political, rather than ethnic, conflict that exists in these states.

© Justyna Mielnikiewicz

2009 Canon AFJ Award winner Justyna Mielnikiewicz.

Mielnikiewicz, 35, is a freelance photoreporter of Polish and Georgian origins and she has lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, since 2002 shooting this project. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek Poland, and Le Monde amongst others. Her work on the Caucasus region won second prize at the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts Project, was granted an honourable mention in the 2003 Dorothea Lange/Robert Taylor Prize, and this year won second prize in the ‘People in the News: Stories’ category of the World Press Photo Awards.

The 2009 Canon AFJ jury was Cyril Drouhet (Le Figaro magazine), Ayperi Ecer (Reuters, Paris), Magali Jauffret (L’Humanité), Monica Allende (The Sunday Times, GB), Delphine Lelu (Images Evidence), and for the AFJ: Catherine Lalanne (Le Pèlerin), Moïra Sauvage (journalist) and Brigitte Huard.

Commenting on Mielnikiewicz’s award Canon AFJ jury member Catherine Lalanne said: “Justyna Mielnikiewicz is the first citizen from Eastern Europe to win the award. Very few photojournalists work on conflicts in the southern Caucasus with such a personal angle. Justyna always takes photos of life, and life has more power than the violence of weapons. Her use of black and white highlights the poetry of the fleeting moments she has captured.”

After the prize has been presented to Justyna Mielnikiewicz at the 21st Visa pour l’Image international festival of photojournalism she will have a year to accomplish the project. Her latest work will then be the subject of an exhibition or a featured projection at the 2010 Visa pour l’Image event in Perpignan.