Free Choice / Conceptual Photography | Winner

Matt Hulse

Edinburgh / UK



I shoot people in Asia from the top of tall buildings using a cheap mobile phone and a $9 telescopic lens. I chose the title SNIPER for its disconcerting sense of menace and dark humour. No-one was harmed during the shooting of these photographs.

Image #1: 07.01.2017 Pyongyang, North Korea. Security guard shot from room 3119 of the Yanggakdo International Hotel. The hotel stands on isolated Yanggak Island. During the winter months it is frozen solid on all sides. International tourists are ‘free to roam’ on the island but are not permitted to leave without the company of local guides.

Image #2: 11.03.2016 Kowloon, Hong Kong. Pedestrian shot on the crossroads of Parkes St and Bowring St from the 18th floor of a tiny one-room apartment.

Image #3: 12.07.2016 Potanin Glacier, Outer Mongolia. British man shot whilst crossing the permafrost that grips the vast Altai Mountain Range - the point where the borders of Russia, China, Outer Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet.

Image #4: 29.04.2016 Pyongyang, North Korea. Springtime on Yanggak Island. This off-duty soldier was shot from room 2010 of the Yanggakdo International Hotel whilst enjoying the blossom and the kindly breeze.

Image #5: 11.03.2016 Kowloon, Hong Kong. Resident shot from the 18th floor of a tiny one-room apartment whilst adjusting a TV aerial. In 2016, the population density of Hong Kong was 6,624 people per square kilometer or 17,156 people per square mile. Life expectancy in Hong Kong is among the highest in the world, at 83.74 years.


“Matt Hulse makes cinema out of whatever is to hand – he transforms the everyday and banal into something striking, witty and beautiful.” (Glasgow Short Film Festival, 2011)

“In the twilight zone between art and cinema – Hulse makes images like Stockhausen makes music.” (International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2001)

Matt Hulse is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His films have screened at dozens of festivals and galleries in 25+ countries internationally.

His work features in Time Out’s 1000 Films to Change Your Life (Simon Cropper 2006) and A History of Experimental Film & Video (A.L.Rees 1999) and is kept at the National Media Museum (UK), National Library of Scotland, Gallaudet University (Washington DC), The Wallace Library (Rochester, NY) and Fales Library (New York University).

He has been nominated on three occasions for The Jarman Award and twice for The Margaret Tait Award.

Matt’s second feature-length film Dummy Jim (2013) premiered at Rotterdam International Film Festival (nominated for a Tiger Award) and Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) (nominated for the Michael Powell Award).

“Totally unique mixture of documentary, fiction and playful visual poetry.” (EIFF)

He writes for The Huffington Post and also leads tours to the DPRK (North Korea) for Koryo Tours.

Audience Award 9. Dresdner Schmalfilmtage (2009)
Hoppe-Ritter Teamwork Award 21st Stuttgart Filmwinter (2008)
Kodak Animation Award San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival (2004)
Special Award for Film Split Festival of New Film (2001)
First Prize (Video) Transmediale Berlin (1999)
Scottish BAFTA™ New Talent Award (1998)

Zajia Lab Beijing (2015)
Unheard Festival Amsterdam (2011)
Nova Cinema Brussels (2008)
ICA London (London Short Film Festival) (2007)
Festival International du Film de La Rochelle (2005)
Art Institute Chicago (Gene Siskel Film Centre) (2004)
MACBA Barcelona (L’Alternativa) (2003)
Filmfest Dresden (2002)

Jury Statement

Matt Hulse’s series titled Sniper is one big lie and, as such, questions the viewers’ belief that the camera can never lie. What viewers believe they are seeing is far removed from what is actually there. At the same time, the role of the photographer between the poles of a freestyle artist or a documentary photographer on an assignment is closely investigated with a fair proportion of irony and humour – like a fascinating remake of ‘Rear Window’, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller from the 1950s. With his work, Matt Hulse provides clear proof that artistic quality must not necessarily be inextricably linked to the technical medium. His visually threatening images remind are not only reminiscent of scenes from a thriller, the remind us even more of the pictures that manifest themselves in our minds – for example, the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. In his own unique way, Matt Hulse pinpoints the extreme vulnerability of globalised society as if seen through the eyes of a sniper - one of today’s hot topics.

Jury impressions – Matt Hulse, Gold Award Winner 2017