2019 Banff Mountain Photo Essay Competition Winner Announced

BANFF, AB, June 25, 2019 – Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival is pleased to announce Matagi by Javier Corso – winner of the 2019 Banff Mountain Photo Essay Competition (view full essay here).

Corso is a Barcelona based photographer and founder/director at production company OAK stories. He began working as a documentary photographer in 2011, his work published in National Geographic, Al Jazeera, TIME LightBox, and GEO magazine. Corso’s projects have been exhibited at Cervantes Institute New York, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, International PHOTON Festival, and Photo Romania Festival. His documentary work recognized by Prix de la Photographie Paris, Moscow International Foto Awards, and International Photography Awards.

In 2018, Corso was nominated for the World Press Photo 6x6 Global Talent Program and his project Matagi received the National Geographic Society Explorer Grant.

Matagi are traditional hunters living in small villages and settlements in the highlands of northern Honshu, Japan. From their mid 16th century origins, matagi have made a living by selling meat, skins and other products derived from the hunting. Their main prey is the Japanese black bear, a subspecies classified as vulnerable and threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Never hunting for recreational or sporting activities – they only capture what is necessary for regulated sale and self-consumption, or for the purpose of protecting rural and agricultural settlements from wild animals. These communities recognize nature as a conscious presence that sustains them, but expects responsible behavior in return. Following the Fukushima incidents in 2011, the State banned many matagi communities from marketing bear meat because of the high risk of being intoxicated by radiation. Recently this has been lifted, and the matagi have been able to resume what has been their main economic activity for centuries. 

In a highly globalized, industrialized and metropolized 21st century Japan, matagi face a likely extinction of their cultural heritage. The global aging of the Japanese population, legal and regulatory limitations on hunting, and attachment to values that no longer resonate among the younger generations – who migrate massively from the rural to the urban environment – are some of the main reasons that leave these hunters without much hope of preserving their legacy.

“The unforgiving, unrepentant compositional style seems to reflect the photographers sense of urgency and conflict in documenting these hunters and their practice. Corso questions us – what do we value – the "vulnerable" species of bear or the endangered cultural tradition? These are delicate questions and in each image Corso has masterfully uncovered different layers of regard to help the viewer probe the territory."

– 2019 Banff Mountain Photo Essay Jury

The 2019 Photo Essay Competition jury members are Ben Tibbetts (UK, adventure photographer, artist, mountain guide), Krystle Wright (AUSTRALIA, adventure sports photographer), and Art Burrows (USA, designer, photographer and adventurer).

The Photo Essay Competition showcases the best in mountain-themed photo essays – to recognize the best stories told through a series of still images. We invited photographers to submit photos to illustrate their mountain related stories whether culture, adventure, wildlife, sport, environment, or natural history. The jury seeks a sequence of images that conveys a compelling story or message – with each image strong enough to stand on its own while conveying a greater narrative when viewed in the photographer’s desired sequence. The 2019 Banff Mountain Photo Essay Competition partners are The Camera Store, Nikon, and Osprey.

Javier Corso receives $2000 CAD in prize money and an opportunity to attend the 2019 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival (October 26 – November 3, 2019). 

The 2019 Festival in Banff features explorers, filmmakers, authors, and photographers from around the globe sharing their stories in person. Tickets for the Festival go on sale Thursday, August 1 at 12 p.m. www.banffmountainfestival.ca

For more information on the competition, photographer contact details or permission to use these images, please contact:  

Jess Green
Media and Communications
Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, Alberta
T1L 1H5  

About Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival: Created 44 years ago, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. The nine-day Festival hosted by Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Canada, showcases the world’s best films, books and photographs on mountain subjects – climbing, culture, environment and natural history, exploration and adventure, wildlife, and sport – and attracts the biggest names in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking, and explorers as presenters and speakers. An international jury will also award over $40,000 in prizes for films and books submitted to this year’s Festival competitions. banffmountainfestival.ca

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home on Treaty 7 territory in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach. banffcentre.ca