Festival Speaker Series

Artist Talk with Sarah Fretwell and Natalya Saprunova
2024 First-Place ZEKE Award Winners

In-person and Zoom
Sarah Fretwell and Natalya Saprunova will be remote from California and the Canadian Arctic. We invite local guests to join us in-person at the Bridge Gallery in Cambridge and remote guests to join us by Zoom. An exhibition of all ZEKE Award winners will be available in the Bridge Gallery for viewing.

Monday, May 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm ET
Doors open for exhibition & reception at 7:00 pm ET
Live presentation and Zoom meeting begins at 7:30 pm ET

Bridge Gallery
4 Pemberton Street, Cambridge, MA 

Register Now

First Place: ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography

Natalya Saprunova
The Evenki People: Custodians of the Resources of Yakutia
Russian Federation

Photo by Natalya SaprunovThe north of Russia conceals countless riches such as gold and diamonds, but also Indigenous cultures. The Evenks, in Yakutia, survive as best they can alongside mining companies who exploit their lands, sacrificed on the altar of economic growth. An Indigenous people of reindeer herders, they were the ones who guided Russian explorers to the deposits, enabling the industrial development of the Soviet Union. Today, the taiga is massively felled, river beds are ravaged, and groundwater is polluted, threatening entire ecosystems. Deforestation favors the appearance of hot winds and subsequently more than local climate change. Indeed, the permafrost contained in Siberian soils is melting more and more, releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases amplifying global warming. In addition, ancient bacteria and viruses dangerous to humans and animals may arise. Today, the Evenki hope to bring their culture to life and to interest a younger generation who suffers from the problems of sedentarization and difficulties in carrying out traditional activities linked to reindeer herding, hunting, gathering, and crafts. The Evenki people regret it all the more as they hoped for a better tomorrow for their children by working for Russian geologists.

Natalya Saprunova, born in 1986 in Murmansk in the Arctic region of Russia, is a documentary photographer now based in Paris and a member of the Zeppelin agency. During her graduate studies as a French teacher in Russia, she worked as a photojournalist for the Murmansk Messenger daily newspaper. Arriving in France in 2008, she studied and worked in marketing for eight years in Paris. At the end of 2016, she gave up her permanent contract to return to photography, a field that has fascinated her since her early childhood. Naturalized French and graduated in Documentary Photojournalism from the EMI-CFD School in Paris in 2020, she continues to explore the issues of modern society related to identity, integration, climate change, youth, femininity, and spirituality. Passionate about the transmission of knowledge, she has been teaching photography at the Graine de Photographe school in Paris since 2016.


First Place: ZEKE Award for Systemic Change

Sarah Fretwell
Guardian of the Forest

Photo by Sarah FretwellApu Quinto Inuma was a former lumber trafficker turned park ranger turned rogue Forest Guardian. He became a tireless international advocate for the environment and Native rights and his community of Santa Rosillo in the Amazon of Peru. To prevent the devastation of land, logging, and drug cartels operating in neighboring communities, Quinto organized other Natives to patrol the forest even after the government denied their ancestral rights to the territory. They worked to protect their children's future and “their brothers who could not speak” — the trees of the forest. With old guns, machetes, and rubber boots, the volunteer Forest Guardians risk their lives to monitor the buffer region of Cordillera Azul National Park beside their village in San Martin. On patrols, they look for new burn and grow areas, document it with cell phones, and send the notes back to local officials. Struggling to survive in this remote region, many people here work for illegal logging and drug cartels.

In November of 2023, Quinto was shot and killed in retaliation for his environmental work.

His spirit still lives on in the forest.

Political scientist, director, and photographer, Sarah Fretwell looks deeper into the intersection of the environment, people, and business with one question: “What if the new bottom line was love?” Her award-winning work explores the lives of everyday people with extraordinary stories. Her storytelling creates the human connection needed for understanding, international engagement, and solutions for change. Clients, publications, and exhibits include The World Bank Group, United Nations, USAID, USAID Indonesia, Tara Expeditions Foundation, BioCarbon Fund, SXSW Interactive, TEDx, The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, Human Rights Watch, CNBC, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Social Documentary Network (SDN), Blue Earth Alliance, and Photoville. Sarah is a graduate of VII Masterclass, Arles 2022 - 2023.  She is a current documentary storyteller with The Center: Visual Storytelling and Documentary Photography Projects.


Sponsored by:

Digital Silver Imaging    Foundation for Systemic Change