A NEW-BORN SYMBOL OF ARMENIA
Years of passion and love for cinema resulted in the establishment of Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival in 2004. Before then, It was just a dream, a thought in three people’s minds: Harutyun Khachatryan, Film Director and Festival General Director; Mikayel Stamboltsyan, Film Critic and Program Director; and Susanna Harutyunyan, Film Critic and Artistic Director, until it became reality in Yerevan, the capital city of Republic of Armenia. The film festival's name refers to the apricot, a fruit native to Armenia. Whose Latin name is “prunus аrmeniaсa” which translates to “the Armenian plum.” A popular symbol of the country, the warm colour of apricot is even found on the tricolored Armenian national flag.
Nevertheless, the festival was not born casually. Armenian cinema since the independence in 1991, though shy, but break through the international festivals. The Armenian cinema has caused big resonance of festivals and retrospective shows in Paris (Pompidou's Center, 1993), in Montreal (2000), in Bologna (2003), and etc. The international success accompanied to the new films of Harutyun Khachatryan, Suren Babayan, Vigen Chaldranyan, David Safaryan, Narine and Arsen Mkrtchyan, Edgar Bagdasaryan, and other Armenian film-makers. It became obvious that in Armenia, country with an established tradition of film production (the first film studio was founded in Armenia in 1923, and the first feature film “Namus” by Beknazarian was screened in 1925), country, in which the cinematograph is connected to the names of Sergey Parajanov and Artavazd Peleshian, needed its own International film festival, which it hasn’t had before.
Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival carries the theme:
“Crossroads of Cultures and Civilizations”.
In Armenia’s past there have been many crossroads of cultures and civilizations, as it has been a flash point for competing geopolitical forces for millennia. This resulted in a civilization replete with international influences and a dynamic arts heritage. Hence GAIFF’s impassioned mantra is to build bridges and foster dialogue between different cultures. GAIFF welcomes films representing diverse ethnic groups, religions, and nations that depict the human experience. GAIFF wants to show the everyday lives of ordinary and extraordinary people alike,
, along with their troubles and joys. Illustrating their journey as they try to find meaning and struggle to redefine themselves in a world that recognizes fewer and fewer boundaries and is always changing.
Yerevan, as the capital, is an evolving testament to Armenia’s heritage, and GAIFF has fast become a premier destination for regional filmmakers, particularly those advancing universal values of peace, cultural harmony and mutual understanding. Accordingly, GAIFF features a multitude of films representing various nations, ethnicities, and religions, collectively depicting the full richness of humankind.
GAIFF is different from other film festivals as it is smaller in scale and hence more intimate, nevertheless it garners international attention and respect.
The films are presented in two international competition sections: features and documentaries. The Golden Apricot (grand prize) and the Silver Apricot (special mention) are awarded in each category. The Armenian Panorama is the pan-Armenian competitive section of the festival for films produced by filmmakers of Armenian descent. GAIFF also has three sections outside of competition to showcase more outstanding films: Non-competitive, Retrospective and Tribute.
Among the honorable guests of the festival during 15 years were: Marco Bellocchio, Wim Wenders, Tonino Guerra, Claudia Cardinale, Fanny Ardant, Alain Terzian, Theodoros Angelopoulos, Nikita Mikhalkov, Alexander Sokurov, Claire Denis, Jafar Panahi, Michael Glawogger, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, Bruno Dumont, Fatih Akin, Lee Chang Dong, Jos Stelling, Krzysztof Zanussi, Dariush Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Bela Tarr, Kohei Oguri, Catherine Breillat, Leos Carax, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Semih Kaplanoghlu, Godfrey Reggio, Victor Erice, Agnieszka Holland, Istvan Szabo, Margarethe von Trotta, Jia Zhangke, Kim Ki-duk, South Amos Gitai, Otar Ioseliani, Robert Guediguian, Ornella Muti, Nastassja Kinski, Jacqueline Bisset, Asghar Farhadi, Larry Smith, Darren Aronofsky, Gianfranco Rosi, Ulrich Seidl, Sean Baker and others.