The winners from World Press Photo Multimedia Contest 2014

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The fourth World Press Photo Multimedia Contest today awarded prizes for films documenting train surfers in South Africa, protestors in Turkey, and the significance of the high-rise building throughout historical architecture.

First prize for the Short Feature section was awarded to Staff Riding, shot by Marco Casino. The Italian photographer, 27, who is currently based between Milan and Turin, orientated his project around the South African “sport” of train surfing, known locally as “staff riding”. Using split screens and info-graphics, Casino documents the young South African men and women, the vast majority of whom are under 25 years of age, as they manage to remain standing on the roof of speeding trains. Despite the dangers of staff riding, which frequently result in limb amputations and even death, Casino’s subjects described staff riding as a form of expression. “You want to take out the anger, instead of beating someone or robbing them.”

In a statement, World Press Photo said of the work: “In a context where violence, alcohol and drug abuse, rampant poverty and AIDS reign supreme, train surfing symbolises the search for social redemption that will never come for the characters of this story.”

Jassim Ahmad on ‘Staff Riding’ from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

The Second Prize in Shorts went to Silent Night: The Kandahar Massacre, shot by Lela Ahmadzai, a multimedia journalist and photographer who was born in Afghanistan and later emigrated to Germany. The film tells the story of 16 civilians who were murdered by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales of the US Army. Third went to Calcio Fiorentino, a film about an early form of football, originally played only by the aristocracy, shot by co-directors David Airob and David Ramos.

First prize for Long Feature was awarded to Witnessing Gezi, based on the recordings of Emin Özmen. The Turkish photojournalist witnessed civil protests against the urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park, which sparked strikes across Turkey. “Witnessing Gezi shows the human aspect of this civil resistance, a crucial event of the last 30 years in Turkey,” World Press Photo says in a statement. Second went to Hers To Lose, by Brend McDonald and Stephen Maing, while Third was taken by Swan Song, made by Rick Gershon and Caitlyn Greene.


First prize for Interactive Documentary was given to A Short History of the Highrise, written, dircted and edited by Katerina Cizek. Comprising four short films, Cizek’s project for The New York Times explores the 2500-year global history, from the biblical Tower of Babel to the modern skyscrapers in New York. Each historical period is explored in a separate chapter, with a voiceover in rhyme (including by the singer Feist) and material from the archives The New York Times. World Press Photo said: “A Short History of the Highrise explores the issue of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world. The interactive experience allows viewers to dig deeper into the project’s themes through additional archival materials, text and microgames, like a visual accordion.”

Second went to NSA Files: Decoded, and Third went to Hollow by Elaine McMillion Sheldon.

Judging for World Press Photo, considered the leading international contest in visual journalism, was conducted at the World Press Photo office in Amsterdam. A total of 373 multimedia productions were entered in the contest: Short Feature 254, Long Feature 56, Interactive Documentary 63.The jury took six days to judge the contest.

At the head of the jury sat Jassim Ahmad, 34, the head of multimedia innovation at Thomson Reuters, whose multimedia work includes Emmy-nominated projects Times of Crisis, Bearing Witness, and Surviving the Tsunami.

The jury also included Gabriel Dance, interactive editor of The Guardian US, Liza Faktor, the co-founder of Screen; Ed Kashi, photographer and member of VII Photo agency; Marianne Lévy-Leblond, head of web productions and transmedia projects at Arte France; Grant Scott, senior lecturer in photography at University of Gloucestershire; and Chilean photographer Luis Weinstein, who is on the editorial board of South African photography magazine, Sueño de la razón.

Commenting on the contest, Ahmad said: “There is clearly no one model for success in the practice. You can work in teams large and small; with the support of a major organisation or local community. The smallest stories can speak to wider truths. The possibilities of multimedia are immense.”