March 24, 2015 — The IWMF has named freelance photographer Heidi Levine as the inaugural winner of the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. The award was created to honor the courage and dedication of Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed while reporting in Afghanistan in 2014.
“We are proud to honor and celebrate the courage of women photojournalists who risk their lives documenting conflict and war while shedding light on moments of humanity,” IWMF Executive Director Elisa Lees Muñoz said. “The images captured by the award nominees represent a collective vantage point on some of this decade’s most dangerous conflicts. Their work helps us better understand the world and inspires us to take action.”
“Living in the region and raising her three children, Heidi Levine experiences the story on both a professional and very personal level, facing the same dangers as her subjects in a war zone, with rocket fire and air strikes a consistent reminder. Unlike many journalists who can cover a story and get on a plane to the safety of their own homeland, she is an integral part of the community and has shown profound concern for people, even moving her Palestinian assistant days before their home was reduced to rubble and putting down the camera to hug an anguished mother. Her passion for bearing witness over three decades is evident, even as her heart endures the loss of friends and colleagues to the conflicts.”
The award jury of accomplished journalists with the guidance of the award’s advisory committee recognized Jerusalem-based photojournalist Heidi Levine as the winner for her stunning and powerful images. “Her courage and commitment to the story in Gaza is unwavering. She documents tragic events under dire circumstances while displaying a depth of compassion for the people she encounters,” the jury wrote in their selection statement.
“I am honored to be recognized with this Award dedicated to celebrating the legacy of Anja,” Levine told the IWMF. “Anja was both a photojournalist and a person I admired, respected, and often consulted with in the field under extreme circumstances. There was an incredible professional bond and sense of trust, a sisterhood so many of us felt, and she is greatly missed by us all.”
Levine is an American photojournalist who has made a career of working in conflict and post-conflict areas. She has covered the critical moments in the Middle East including the revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Syria, the plight of Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, Syria, and Sweden, and spent one month embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq focused on documenting the lives of female soldiers. She has also worked in Afghanistan, Georgia, and India. Her photographs have appeared, often as cover stories, in leading international publications.
The award will be presented to Levine at a ceremony in Berlin on June 25, 2015. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation provided the funding for the $20,000 prize. The Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award will be given annually to a woman photojournalist whose work reflects the courage and dedication of Anja Niedringhaus.
Two additional photojournalists received recognition from the jury. Photographer Anastasia Vlasova received an Honorable Mention for her great courage and dedication to covering the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine at extreme personal risk. AP photographer Rebecca Blackwell received an Honorable Mention for her coverage of the Central African Republic, demonstrating tremendous courage working in difficult conditions.
Warrick PageHeidi Levine in Jerusalem
Masha HamiltonHeidi Levine in Kabul
Ashraf Al MasriHeidi Levine in Gaza
Pavlo PodufalovAnastasia Vlasova (Honorable Mention)
Dominique Derda/Associated PressRebecca Blackwell (Honorable Mention)