LONG CONSIDERED THE “SENIOR” cultural event of the underwater world, the World Festival of Underwater Pictures – also known as the Antibes Festival - brings together in the south of France artistic, photographic and cinematographic productions related to the world beneath the sea.
After more than 30 years in Antibes, 2013 was the fifth year for the festival to take place in Marseille, and the second time for it to be housed in the excellent facilities of the Parc Chanot, Marseilles equivalent to ExCeL or the NEC.
The festival now benefits from 3000sq m of space with more than 100 exhibitors, almost 1500 photos in competition on display and more than 200 films projected on the big screen, 30 competitions and more than 30,000 euros in prizes.
Last year’s was the 40th festival, and it is clearly settling well into its new home. Marseille was also the 2013 European Capital of Culture, and the city was putting on its best face, with several new museums and other attractions opening their doors for the first time.
For four days in November the festival offered the diving world and the general public a window on the seas and oceans.
It is also one of the underwater world’s best social events, as it keeps long hours and includes plenty of entertainment.
Visiting the festival provides the opportunity to see all the images and films in competition, or to wait until the juries have selected the winners for you.
But the burning question is always: “Who is the underwater photographer of the year” This is best answered by the jury’s choice in the Still Images Portfolio prize.
The Plongeur d’Or (Golden Diver) goes to the photographer who can demonstrate the ability to present 10 images of the highest quality.
This is a tall order, because as the jury is looking for talent in a broad range of subjects and situations – there’s no room for padding in these portfolios.
This year’s winner was Claudio Gazzaroli (below) from Switzerland. Along with the trophy, he also receives 1000 euros, a seven-night stay at the Loloata Resort Walindi Plantation and a 7-10- night trip on mv Febrina.

Gazzaroli, 40, started diving in the Caribbean in 1994. He had already won the Plongeur dArgent (Silver Diver) in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at the Marseille festival, and seems to have made this his speciality.