At the press conference this morning we heard from Christian Poveda about his three-year work with the maras (gangs) that developed in the El Salvador communities of the L.A. suburbs and then were exported back to the country, where gangs had previously been unknown (image above; the maras are known for their facial tattoos). Poveda showed his full-length feature film about the maras Wednesday afternoon, but we saw a 12-minute film that he used to raise money for the feature that consisted mostly of his images and interviews with the gang members. It was frightening and moving to hear the subjects, many of whom have been in the gangs since childhood and have no other family, talk with very little remorse about their multiple homicides. And even scarier when we heard the figure of almost 100,000 gang members in the U.S. and South America.
The conference also began with with a touching moment when someone came to the stage to tell Poveda that the legendary photojournalist Francoise Demulder had just died (one of her images is above). Tears came to Poveda’s eyes and he gave a moving remembrance to Demulder the first woman to win a World Press Photo award and an inspiration to photojournalists of both sexes.