The festival was launched by the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST), in collaboration with Ninh Binh provincial People’s Committee. In the context of complicated the COVID-19 pandemic, causing difficulties for all activities, the organising board held this event successfully with the focus on the photo exhibition entitled “Vietnam through the lens of international photographers”. The exhibition is open to visitors free of charge from November 26 to December 3 and introduced on the website of the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition (http://ape.gov.vn).
According to the organisers, after three months of launching, the festival received 1,567 entries by 98 photographers from 19 countries and territories around the world including France, Canada, Russia, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, Turkey, Latvia, China, Cambodia, Italy, Thailand, Taiwan (China), South Africa, Brazil, Belarus, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam. The gathering of photographers from several continents, with many different cultures as well as aesthetic points of view has brought diverse ways of expression, reflecting many different themes. The Arts Council, which was formed by the MoCST selected 177 photos by 93 photographers for the exhibition.
With the open contents of Vietnamese landscapes, people, culture and the genre of single photos, the image of a beautiful, vivid and colourful country was highlighted through the lenses of the photographers. The photos can be divided into different groups: architecture, monuments, festivals and traditional art forms of Vietnam; Vietnam’s landscapes; traditional Vietnamese crafts; mountainous areas; rural landscapes and activities; Vietnam’s rivers; streets and modern life. In general, all of them expressed the photographers’ affectionate and friendly look and respect for the land and people of Vietnam. For example, there are many beautiful photos on ethnic minority groups’ culture such as Bui Quoc Sy’s “Thang hoa” (Sublimation) which described the unique fire dance festival of the Pa Then people in Tuyen Quang province, or “K’Ho young unmarried woman” by Ngo Dinh honouring woman’s beauty. Many other photographers were fascinated with the image of children playing together innocently and peacefully such “Phan Rang” by Burak Senbak (from Turkey) or “Nhung dua tre o Lao Xa, Ha Giang” (Children in Lao Xa, Ha Giang) by Ninh Manh Thang. The daily activities of coastal residents such as pulling nets and carrying salt appeared poetically through the photos “Minh Thu” by French photographer Marie José Tack or “Muoi Hon Khoi, Khanh Hoa” (Salt in Hon Khoi, Khanh Hoa) by Nguyen Ngoc Son. Vietnam is a country with a long coastline, so it is impossible not to mention the photos capturing the images of attractive destinations such as “Da Nang” by Domenico Ziccardi from Italy or “Binh minh doi cat Phan Thiet” (Dawn on the sand hill in Phan Thiet) by Ho Hon Yew from Singapore. Photographer Jared Fraser from Canada, who has been in Hanoi for four years, contributed many impressive moments. His photos entitled “Cau Long Bien” (Long Bien Bridge) and “Tra thuoc pho co Hanoi” (Tea and cigarettes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter).
The exhibition offered an opportunity for viewers to travel Vietnam through the photos, feel the wildness and beauty of nature, the richness and uniqueness of cultures from many regions around the country. In addition, the event contributed to creating cohesion between photographers and photography lovers as well as became a chance for international and Vietnamese photographers to exchange, learn and showcase their works.