YES, SHE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Florence’s “Water Works” selection has won the Free Theme category Prize in the 2009 Visa Off photo festival in Perpignan.
The picture was shot (by me) at the award ceremony which was held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Perpignan in the early evening of September 3. The room did not have an air conditioning, and with all the photographers, press/media, festival staffs, and publics gathered, the room was steamy hot. I had no idea what was happening on the stage because I do not understand French. All of a sudden, I heard Florence’s name. I looked at Florence, but her whole body was completely frozen and she looked dead serious. A few seconds later, I heard her name, again. Florence’s face lit up, and everybody clapped their hands. Then I finally realized she had gotten the prize. We didn’t even know Florence was among the three nominees for the prize! She went up to the stage and was given the prize. She told me later that she was so nervous throughout this ceremony to the point she thought she was going to faint. I guess this picture shows her nervousness in her unusual smile. The man with a microphone is monsieur Maurice Halimi, assistant of the mayor with the culture of the town of Perpignan. Again I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying, but according to Florence he spoke really nice things about Florence and her work.
After monsieur Halimi’s speech, Florence was asked to give a short speech. Oh, NO! This prize was much to her surprise, and so she was not prepared at all to give a speech. But somehow she pulled it off. I don’t know exactly what she said, but according to Florence, she thanked all the staffs of the Festival Off and the town of Perpignan for their hospitality and kindness. To your right hand of the picture, the woman standing with the Visa Off t-shirt on is madame Jacqueline Guenoun, Secretary of the Festival. Florence met her at the opening. She was running around organizing everything, but very kindly took time to talk to Florence.
Here is a photo with all other winners and nominees. Finally Florence has a smile on her face. But do you know what she did at first? Florence was holding her certificate backwards! Several press people were trying to take pictures but they couldn’t because Florence was not holding the certificate right. And do you know what she said to me later? “Because I didn’t want to show off.” Oh, Florence, Florence…
So in this picture, from your left, monsieur Didier Hoiry, President of the Visa Off. Next to the president is madame Bettina David Fauchier, another nominee for the Free Theme Prize. Florence and I loved her pictures! And the man in red shirt is the winner of the Collective Prize and the tall man on your right is the Photo Reportage Amateur Prize winner.
Here is Florence with her supporters after the award ceremony. To your left, Audrey from RFM radio. We met her at the opening of the Festival. Since then she has been promoted(?) to Florence’s Perpignan local assistant. She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak French, but somehow Audrey and I decided that we were going to make a revolution soon because we are exploited! Well… not exactly, but you know… we are volunteers, so… Watch out, Florence! 😉 Next to Audrey is Christophe who is a good friend of Florence and happened to live in Perpignan. He is such a fashionable guy as you can see in this picture and very nice. Without him, Florence wouln’t have been able to participate in the festival. Actually, we wouldn’t have even made it to our hotel in Perpignan. Perpignan is a small city, but the roads there are unbelievability confusing (and so narrow). Florence who is new to this town didn’t know where to go, and I couldn’t even read some of the road signs or the map because they are in French! Christophe drove us to our hotel, took us around the city, showed us good restaurants to eat, etc. He even helped Florence hang her pictures for her exhibition. This was another story which I’ll tell you about later. The cool thing about Christophe is that he said he “knew” Florence was going to win the prize (and that’s why he came to the ceremony). He certainly has eyes for true art! And finally next to Florence is… a ghost. Well, let’s keep it that way 😉
Finally, today September 9, in a few hours, they are going to do screenings of the photos on this gigantic screen at the Republic Square in Perpignan. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to see Florene’s photo on this screen because I had already left France, but Florence will be there with her supporters.
Florence and I had a wonderful time in Perpignan. As Florence said on the stage, the festival staffs were very welcoming and kind. This photo festival is one of the biggest events that I have ever been to. Between the Visa pour l’Image and the Festival Off, the entire city of Perpignan is involved in these events for two weeks. I can only imagine how much work it requires, especially for the staff members. Other than the people I mentioned above, Delphine and Jean-Louis from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry were very nice and helpful as well.
Florence and I were also impressed with the fact that the judges of the Festival Off actually went all over the city and evaluated all the exhibitions (69 of them!) with their eyes. I thought they had already decided on the prizes based on the digital images and prints that participants submitted when they applied, but apparently that was not the case.
I will write more about Florence’s Visa Off exhibition and other stuffs, but for now,
Thank you, everyone! Thank you, Visa Off! Thank you, Perpignan!