A touching image of a Brazilian nursing home resident hugging someone for the first time in five months through a plastic protective barrier was named the photo of the year by the World Press Photo Foundation Thursday.

Key Facts

Taken by Danish photographer Mads Nissen, the image shows 85-year-old Rosa Luzia Lunardi embracing Adriana Silva da Costa Souza, a nurse at Viva Bem care home in São Paulo, Brazil, through a “hug curtain.” 

Judges said Nissen’s photograph explores themes that most describe the world in 2021 — vulnerability, love, loss and separation, death and survival.

“To me, this is a story about hope and love in the most difficult times,” Nissen said in a statement Thursday.

Nissen said he felt compelled to go to Brazil to take pictures after he heard about the coronavirus crisis there, which he blamed on “the poor leadership” of President Jair Bolsonaro, who Nissen said “has been neglecting this virus from the very beginning.”

Key Background

Other World Press Photo winners this year include Italian photographer Antonio Faccilongo for his photo story Habibi, which shows the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its effect on Palestinian families trying to concieve children as husbands serve prison time. The Washington Post’s digital piece Reconstructing Seven Days of Protests in Minneapolis After George Floyd’s Death was named the interactive of the year. It used user-generated content to look at the initial week of protests in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd. Directors Yang Shenlai and Tang Xiaolan’s Calling Back From Wuhan, about a family in Wuhan, China, and told through a series of phone calls, was awarded online video of the year