The awards were initiated in 2008 by the The Thao & Van Hoa daily and Bui Xuan Phai’s family. The awards have been organised annually by the Hanoi People’s Committee and sponsored by the The Thao & Van Hoa newspaper and Bui Xuan Phai Fund to honour painter Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988), a founder of modern art in Vietnam.

Serving the mission of discovering and honouring significant contributions to the capital city for more than a decade, it is classified into four categories: Grand Prize, Idea Prize, Job Prize, and Work Prize, each honouring a winner.

Between September 2018 and July 2019, a list of more than 40 individuals, works, ideas and activities meeting the awards’ criteria have been completed for submission to the judges’ council.

This year, the council consists of poet Bang Viet, former chairman of the Hanoi Literature and Arts Association; journalist Ho Quang Loi, Permanent Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Journalists’ Association; historian and National Asembly deputy Duong Trung Quoc, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Historical Science; journalist Ngo Ha Thai, former Deputy General Director of the Vietnam News Agency; Prof, Dr. architect Hoang Dao Kinh; journalist Le Xuan Thanh, Editor-in-Chief of the The Thao & Van Hoa newspaper.

Head of the council poet Bang Viet said nostalgia is a highlight of the 2019 nominations.

Accordingly, there are three nominations for the Work Prize. They are three books entitled “Hanoi mot thoi hat” by Nguyen Truong Quy, which introduces Hanoi’s lifestyle in the 1947-1954 period through Doan Chuan’s music; “Kim Lien mot thuo” by Vu Cong Chien – a memory of Hanoi’s apartments in the past; and “Hanoi quan xa pho Phuong” by Uong Trieu, which use words to depict the capital city’s cuisine.

The Idea Prize also sees three nominations. They include the determination to revive To Lich River of Hanoi authorities and local people, and a project on building the Formula 1 race and hosting Formula 1 Grand Prix in Hanoi for the first time in April 2020. The last nomination is a training-research project on giving Hanoi’s traditional wet markets a new face led by architect Steve Davies.

Three other nominations have been named for the Job Prize. The first one belongs to a Hanoi sketching group, who has worked to keep memories of the capital city through their paintings. The second is a host of activities by the Hanoi authorities and local community to promote the image of the capital as a city of peace. Hanoi was recognised as ‘City for Peace’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in July 16, 1999. The last one features the efforts to help the “Hanoi Post Office” building near Hoan Kiem Lake regain its old name.

The only nomination for and also the winner of the Grand Prize is kept secret. The prize is the most important award granted to an individual who has devoted his or her life to the development of Hanoi and has a career that is strongly connected to the capital.

Last year, the Grand Prize went to 96-year-old Nguyen Ba Dam. Dam, born in Moc village, Giap Nhat, used to serve as a history teacher at Phan Dinh Phung high school. He was a good friend of Bui Xuan Phai and was an inspiration for 242 of Phai’s portrait sketches. He is renowned for his collection of ancient coins and artist belongings.-VNA