German Peace Prize for Photography | Nominiert

César Dezfuli

Madrid / ES



On 1st August 2016, 118 people were rescued from a rubber boat drifting in the Mediterranean, 20 nautical miles off Libya. One more of the hundreds of boats that have been rescued from this migratory route in the past years.

In an attempt to put name and face to this reality, to humanize this tragedy, I portrayed the 118 people who traveled on board the same boat, minutes after their rescue. Their faces, their looks, the marks on their body... reflect the mood and physical state in which they were after a long journey that had already marked their lives forever.

But that was just the beginning of this project. I soon understood that those people I had portrayed lacked real identity. Those were not themselves, but the result of a long journey during which their identity had been diluted in the mass. During the last six years I have worked to locate the 118 of them, today scattered throughout Europe, to understand and document their real identity.


César Dezfuli was born in 1991 in Madrid, in a context of cultural mixture given his Spanish-Persian origins. Self-taught in photography and having learned his trade as a journalist in various newsrooms, he now works as a freelance photojournalist, focusing on humanitarian crisis and international affairs.

His assignments and personal projects have taken him to document different realities worldwide, covering the election in Kenya, Rwanda or Kosovo, attending the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, or to China, where he documented families which have flouted the country ́s one-child policy. Since 2015, his focus is on the migrant crisis at the borders of Europe, with a special attention on the Central Mediterranean migratory route.

His work has been published in international media such as Le Monde, The Guardian or Time Magazine, and recognized with several awards as the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize (UK) or the Picture of the Year (USA). It has also been part of individual and collective exhibitions worldwide, as in the National Portrait Gallery (UK), the Museum of Sydney (Australia), or Visa Pour L ́Image (France).