PORTFOLIO THOMAS CRISTOFOLETTI 2010 - 2014
Laos dam threatens fishermens’ livelihoods In the next few months, Laos will start to build the controversial Don Sahong Dam, its second hydropower dam after the Xayaburi, yet the one that will have a much larger impact on the livelihoods of millions of people, fisheries and endangered species. The dam will be build on the only channel that allows year-round fish migration up- and downstream the Mekong. Much has been reported about the threat that the Xayaburi, which is further north, poses, however, the Don Sahong will have an even vaster impact on the region. Experts say that the new dam puts at risk the ecological integrity of the Lower Mekong as a whole. In particular, it will have a severe impact on the
endangered giant catfish, other fish species — some of them unique to the Mekong — and the Irrwaddy dolphin, which has found a natural habitat just two kilometers from the dam and is already critically endangered. Once the dam is constructed, the Irrwaddy dolphin will be extinct in the area. The 30-meter dam will also threaten the livelihood of local fishermen, who risk their lives each day to catch fish in the Khone Phapheng waterfall, the largest in Southeast Asia. Fishermen in Cambodia, just a few kilometers from the dam, as well as in Vietnam will also catch fewer fish. Neighboring countries and the Mekong River Commission were neither consulted nor notified about the construction, which is led by a Malaysian company. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom 2013
A MARCH FOR THE ENVIRONMENT In Cambodia today, hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced from their homes, farmlands, forests and 8isheries as investors plunder the country for private profit in the name of â€˜developmentâ€™. In rural areas, more than 2 million hectares have been granted to private companies as concessions for the development of agro-industrial plantations. The sugarcane industry has been one of the worst offenders driving this land-grabbing crisis. At least 75,000 hectares in economic land concessions have been granted to private companies for industrial sugarcane production in recent years. These concessions have led to the destruction of protected forests, the pollution of water sources, and the forced displacement and dispossession of hundreds of families in Koh Kong, Kampong Speu, Oddar
Meanchey and Svay Rieng provinces. Crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest. Many families, after loosing their lands and their only source of income, have been forced to send their children to work in the plantations for less than 2.5 USD a day. Despite the abundant evidence of these crimes, none of the responsible individuals and companies have been held to account. Meanwhile, the sugar that is tainted by gross human rights abuses is exported to Europe, where suppliers and importers receive special trade bene8its under the Everything But Arms initiative. ÂŠ Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom 2013
Inside the 969 movement: the Myanmar’s Buddhist radicals Our second collaborative work for Ruom, “Inside the 969 Movement” is an in-depth piece on the inner workings and consequences of this growing Buddhist-lead anti-Muslim movement in Myanmar. Working in close collaboration, Nicolas Axelrod, Thomas Cristofoletti and Alexandre Marchant, spent
three weeks travelling through central Myanmar, investigating and interacting with those who propagate the teachings of this organization.
© Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom 2013
BLOOD SUGAR - life in the Cambodian sugar cane plantations In Cambodia today, hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced from their homes, farmlands, forests and 8isheries as investors plunder the country for private profit in the name of â€˜developmentâ€™. In rural areas, more than 2 million hectares have been granted to private companies as concessions for the development of agro-industrial plantations. The sugarcane industry has been one of the worst offenders driving this land-grabbing crisis. At least 75,000 hectares in economic land concessions have been granted to private companies for industrial sugarcane production in recent years. These concessions have led to the destruction of protected forests, the pollution of water sources, and the forced displacement and dispossession of hundreds of families in Koh Kong, Kampong Speu, Oddar
Meanchey and Svay Rieng provinces. Crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest. Many families, after loosing their lands and their only source of income, have been forced to send their children to work in the plantations for less than 2.5 USD a day. Despite the abundant evidence of these crimes, none of the responsible individuals and companies have been held to account. Meanwhile, the sugar that is tainted by gross human rights abuses is exported to Europe, where suppliers and importers receive special trade benefits under the Everything But Arms initiative. ÂŠ Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom 2013
THE BOOM OF CAMBODIA’S ORPHANAGE TOURISM During the daytime, tourists flock to the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. They tour the ancient temples while sipping fresh coconuts and pose for a photo in front of the trees that have overgrown the world heritage site for centuries. In the evening, however, the area offers little entertainment, and so many tourists opt to visit one of the hundreds of orphanages that have sprouted up over the past years to see children perform traditional dances. Donations are made to buy food, toys and school books for the children, but most of the money is filling the coffers of the founders and managers.
Since the days of the genocidal Khmer Rouge Regime and the following civil war, which ended in the early 90′s, the number of orphans steadily decrease. The number of orphanages, however, kept increasing, and the majority of children living in orphanages – more than 70 percent – has at least one remaining parent. Due to the generosity of tourists who want to help the still impoverished nation and the most vulnerable Cambodians, orphanages have become a lucrative, multimillion-dollar business model, and tourists are tricked into believing that they are helping real orphans. © Thomas Cristofoletti 2013
DEMINING IN THE DEPTHS In pitch-black waters, with only their hands to guide them, Cambodia’s first batch of salvage divers will soon start to recover the thousands of tons of unexploded artillery shells and bullets that lie at the bottom of the country’s lakes and rivers. But before they begin their perilous underwater operations, the 35 staff members of the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) first had to learn how to swim. More than 20 years after the Khmer Rouge regime, under which 2 million Cambodians perished, and the following civil war left the country littered with mines and unexploded ordnance, it still remains one of the most heavily mined regions.
A potential of 300 ships were sunk in Cambodia’s in the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers in the 1960’s and 70’s, when the former regime received U.S. supply from South Vietnam before being toppled by the Khmer Rouge. Some of the barges were filled with up to 1,000 tons of munition, which, if recovered, could still be used today and sold by anyone hoping to make a profit. Former U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal specialists and divers trained Cambodia’s first salvage diving unit to start demining the country’s waterways. This is the story of the group of initially 35 through their first swimming classes to scuba diving training on Cambodia’s coast and a graduation ceremony honoring ten men who made it through the rigorous training. © Thomas Cristofoletti 2013
THE DEATH OF A KING After 4 months of mourning and 7 days of funerals, Cambodians finally bade goodbye with tears their beloved “King-Father” Norodom Sihanouk, who died of a heart attack in Beijing on Oct. 15 (2012) at the age of 89. 4 months of elaborate Buddhist rites that culminated with the golden coffin, carrying the
embalmed body of the late king, paraded through the streets of Phnom Penh (lined with thousands of mourners paying their last respects) and a sumptuous cremation ceremony held in the crematorium built nearby the Royal Palace, at the presence of numerous foreign heads of state.
© Thomas Cristofoletti 2013
CHASING THE DREAM: Luca Sturniolo What’s the meaning of chasing one’s dream? What sacrifices are we willing to make to turn it into reality? This is the story of Luca, a rocker and a full-time father, born in Italy and currently living in Nokia, Finland. He used to play in several bands, but now most of his income is derived from performing solo
gigs around the country, sometimes driving hundreds of kilometers in snow to play cover songs in small suburban bars. However, he makes a living out of music, something he couldn’t have ever dreamt of when he was living in Italy, and this makes it all worth it.
© Thomas Cristofoletti 2012
LOS PERCEBEIROS DE LAXE In the small village of Laxe, located on the Northwest coast of Galicia (called Costa da Morte, Coast of Death), a small group of fishermen (40 men and 1 woman) dedicate their lives to hunting Percebes (Goose Barnacles), Spain’s most expensive and sought after shellfish. These are probably the world’s most at-risk seafood gatherers as due to the percebe’s need for oxygen the highest
quality ones grow on the most dangerous places and are most profitably harvested in the winter, when the supply is limited by the risks involved. This is the story of a few of these percebeiros during the month of December, the most crucial of the year for them. As Christmas approaches, prices get higher (a kg could be sold up to 180 euros) and higher as well as the waves they have to face daily.
© Thomas Cristofoletti 2011
BURNED As we were driving towards the village, it felt as if we were entering some kind of hell... also their traditions, their language, their history and their beloved spirits who are believed to flames, smoke and burning trees everywhere. But not only are they burning their forests, but inhabit these forests.
ÂŠ Thomas Cristofoletti 2012
TRAVEL: ONCE UPON A TIME IN MYANMAR (BURMA) 3 weeks wandering around Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Hsipaw and Pyin Oo Lwin.
© Thomas Cristofoletti 2012
TRAVEL: ONCE UPON A TIME IN (SOUTH) VIETNAM During my second trip to Vietnam I had the chance to visit some of the most remote (and less touristic) areas of the Mekong Delta as I was working on a reportage about the Khmer Krom - the cambodian minority who live in this part of the country. After 5 days spent with some friends in Ho Chi Minh City, I visited Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang,
Can Tho and Chau Doc. People in this area of Vietnam are incredible kind as theyâ€™re not get used to see many tourist, prices are very low (compared to the rest of the country) and you have the chance to visit some really incredible places.
ÂŠ Thomas Cristofoletti 2012
NGO: CAMBODIAN MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS Last October Ruom was contacted by UNDP (United Nation Development Program) to photograph the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals in Cambodia. The project guidelines gave us complete freedom to research and organize a shooting plan â€“ a rare and welcome opportunity. There are nine Cambodian development goals, one more than the set eight worldwide goals. Jointly established in the year 2000 by 189 countries, the UN is pushing to achieve these goals by 2015.
The work was spilt up between two Ruom photographers, Thomas Cristofoletti and Nicolas Axelrod. We were given a total of 27 days to investigate, travel and photograph. We conducted thorough research into each of the different goals, and together set up a shooting plan corresponding to the needs of UNDP. With help from UNICEF Cambodia we made the necessary contacts, and organized logistical assistance to facilitate the documentation process.
ÂŠ Thomas Cristofoletti 2013 / Ruom
WHO I AM My name is Thomas Cristofoletti, and I am an Italian freelance photojournalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I’m also the co-founder of the photo and video collective RUOM. For the past 4 years, I’ve been working in many social video & photography projects in South East Asia (mainly in Cambodia, Thailand and The Philippines) and in Europe, collaborating with different international NGOs and my photographs have been featured in several international magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times, The Global Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The South East Asia Globe and many others.
WHAT I DO - Travel photography; - Social reportages; - Studio photography; - Video documentary; - Multimedia.
WHAT I DID So far, I’ve travelled and made photographic and video reports in: U.S.A., Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, Turkey, Morocco, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Laos, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and many European countries. My work has been published in several magazines and newspapers in Italy, Spain, Russia, United Arab Emirates, U.S.A. and France, and my photos have been exhibited in Italy, Spain, England, U.S.A. and Cambodia. I speak Italian (native), Spanish (fluent) and English (fluent).
WHERE I AM I'm available for work and assignment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and all around Asia and South East Asia.
CONTACT ME THOMAS CRISTOFOLETTI st 360-105 #24 - PHNOM PENH CAMBODIA www.thomascristofoletti.com & www.ruom.net +855 (0)77955042 (Cambodia) +34 605408139 (Spain) firstname.lastname@example.org