The annual GOLDEN APRICOT International Film Festival formed in 2004 in Yerevan- the capital of the Republic of Armenia. It was established by the “Golden Apricot” Fund for Cinema Development, the Armenian Association of Film Critics and Cinema Journalists, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Armenia and Benevolent Fund for Cultural Development. The organizers of the Golden Apricot International Film Festival are: Harutyun Khachatryan, Film Director and Festival Director; Mikayel Stamboltsyan, Film Critic and Program Director; and Susanna Harutyunyan, Film Critic and Artistic Director. Internationally acclaimed Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan was named President of the festival in 2005.
The Golden Apricot International Film Festival carries the theme Crossroads of Cultures and Civilizations. The title may well serve as our impassioned mantra for building cultural bridges and fostering dialogue. It also reflects the history of Armenia itself, which for millennia has existed as a flash point for competing geopolitical forces. Armenia's desirable geographic position has made it into a hot spot of contention for various empires, yet on the other hand, it has resulted in a civilization replete with world influences and a dynamic arts heritage. We welcome films representing diverse ethnic groups, religions, and nations that depict the human experience, the daily lives of people, ordinary and extraordinary, their troubles and their joys, as they try to find meaning in a changing world and struggle to redefine themselves in a world that recognizes fewer and fewer boundaries.
Yerevan is an evolving testament to Armenia’s heritage. GAIFF has rapidly become a principal destination for filmmakers of all genres, particularly those advancing universal values of peace, mutual understanding, cultural harmony and cross-pollination. Accordingly, GAIFF features a multitude of films representing various nations, ethnicities, and religions, collectively depicting the full richness of the human experience.
The Golden Apricot festival is different from other such events in the sense that it is relatively smaller-scale and intimate while it continues to garner international attention and respect. The films are presented in two international competition sections: features and documentaries. One Grand Prize Golden Apricot and one Special Mention are awarded in each category. The festival has a special pan-Armenian competitive section - Armenian Panorama - for short, feature, documentary, and animation films produced by filmmakers of Armenian descent. The opening of the festival is always marked with a traditional blessing of apricots, for which Armenia is famous.
The First GOLDEN APRICOT Festival took place on June 30 to July 4, 2004. The festival attracted attention from all over the world while including 148 films representing over 70 filmmakers from 20 countries. The Festival international jury consisted of eminent figures in world cinema and film criticism. Vahe Fattal designed the Festival poster, logo and other design works. Grand Prizes of the first GOLDEN APRICOT festival went to Atom Egoyan (Feature Film Competition), Stephane Elmadjian (Short Film and Experimental), Armen Khachatryan (Documentary).
At the Second GOLDEN APRICOT Festival (12-17 July, 2005), entries were submitted from 45 countries such as Russia, Argentina, the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Chile, Turkey, Finland, India, Israel, Iran and Canada. Following the selection, 144 films from 37 countries were included into competition and non-competition programs. Included amongst the guests and participants were some of the most highly acclaimed figures of world cinema such as Abbas Kiarostami, Krzysztof Zanussi, and Nikita Mikhalkov who were given Lifetime Achievement Awards. The main prizewinners of the Second GOLDEN APRICOT Festival were Alexander Sokurov, Russia, with his film “Sun” (Feature Film Competition), Pirjo Honkasalo, Finland, with “Three Rooms of Melancholia” (Documentary Competition), and Arman Yeritsyan, Armenia, with “Under the Open Sky” (Armenian Panorama Competition). The festival was covered by a number of Armenian and foreign media. Articles in such important cinema journals as CAHIER DU CINEMA (by Jean-Pier Rehm) and VARIETY (by Deborah Young) were published. Well-known directors and honored guests of the festival held master classes during the festival.
In 2005 GAIFF established a network of filmmakers within the region entitled Directors Across Borders (DAB). The founders of DAB share the common belief that film is a unique tool that can transform human relations without recognizing political, ideological, racial or religious borders. Understanding the regional importance of the DAB, the European Cultural Parliament has taken on its patronage.
The Third GOLDEN APRICOT Festival presented about 120 films from 43 countries. Participants included some of the most highly acclaimed figures of world cinema – such as Marco Bellocchio, Tonino Guerra, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Godfrey Reggio, and Artavazd Peleshyan, who were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. More than 110 foreign guests attended the festival, which included filmmakers, actors, producers and distributors. The festival was covered by a numbers of international media, including EURONEWS, ARTE, KULTURA (Russia) TV channels. The international juries, headed by Moritz de Hadeln (Feature Competition), Godfrey Reggio (Documentary Competition) and Arsinee Khanjian (Armenian Panorama), awarded the following prizes: Golden Apricot 2006 for the Best Feature Film to Hou Hsiao-Hsien for his film “Three Times”, (Taiwan/China/France); Golden Apricot 2006 for the Best Documentary Film to “Working Man’s Death” by Michael Glawogger, (Austria); and Golden Apricot 2006 for the Best Film in “Armenian Panorama” to “The Dwellers of Forgotten Islands” by Hrant Hakobyan, (Armenia).
The Forth GOLDEN APRICOT International Film Festival was held from July 9 to July 14, 2007. More than 120 films from around the world were presented during the festival with attendance from contemporary filmmakers such as Bruno Dumont, Leos Carax, Carla Garapedian, Lee Chang-dong, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Aurora Quattrocchi, Tchéky Karyo. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (Italy), directors of “The Lark Farm” (Opening Film of the Festival) were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The international juries, headed by An Cheong-sook (South Korea), Martin Schweighofer (Austria), Vigen Chaldranyan (Armenia) awarded the following prizes: Golden Apricot 2007 for the Best Feature Film to Ulrich Seidl for his film “Import/Export” (Austria); Golden Apricot 2007 for the Best Documentary Film to Vardan Hovhannisyan for his film “A Story of People in War and Peace” (Armenia) and Golden Apricot 2007 for the Best Film in the “Armenian Panorama” to “Screamers” by Carla Garapedian (UK). Vardan Hovhannisyan (“A Story of People in War and Peace”) was awarded with the FIPRESCI and Ecumenical Jury Prizes and Carla Garapedian (“Screamers”) was also awarded the Ecumenical Jury Price.
The Fifth GOLDEN APRICOT International Film Festival was held from July 13 to 20, 2008. The Festival had more than 450 submissions from 67 countries; viewers had an opportunity to see over 160 films. Among the honorable guests of the festival were Wim Wenders, Enrica Antonioni, Goran Paskaljevic, Dariush Mehrjui, Catherine Breillat, and others. A Special Tribute was paid to Michelangelo Antonioni by honoring him with a posthumous Parajanov’s Thaler. Additionally, Wim Wenders and Dariush Mehrjui were honored with Parajanov’s Thaler Lifetime Achievement Awards. The main prizewinners of the Fifth GOLDEN APRICOT International Festival were Anna Melikian from Russia for her film “The Mermaid” (Golden Apricot 2008 for the Best Feature Film), Meira Asher from Israel for the film “Women See Lot of Things” (Golden Apricot 2008 for the Best Documentary Film), and Eric Nazarian from USA for “The Blue Hour” (Golden Apricot 2008 for the Best Film in the “Armenian Panorama”). FIPRESCI Award went to Huseyn Karabey with his film “My Marlon and Brando” and the Ecumenical Award to Eric Nazarian with his film “The Blue Hour”.
The Sixth GOLDEN APRICOT International Film Festival was held from July 12 to 19, 2009. The Festival had over 450 submissions from 67 countries 150 of which were included into the competition and non-competition programs. Over 250 accredited press representatives (foreign and local) covered the festival. This was the fourth year the festival was widely covered by EURONEWS. Among honorable guests the Festival hosted filmmakers, Rob Nilsson (USA), Kohei Oguri (Japan), Alexander Rodnyansky (Russia), Sergei Solovyov (Russia), actors Eric Bogosian (USA), Arsinee Khanjian (Canada), producer Alain Terzian and others. The international juries, headed by Kohei Oguri, Alexander Rodnyansky, Haig Balian (The Netherlands) awarded the following prizes: Golden Apricot 2009 for the Best Feature Film to George Ovashvili for his film “The Other Bank” (Georgia); Golden Apricot 2009 for the Best Documentary Film to Anders Østergaard for his film “Burma VJ - Reporting from a Closed Country” (Denmark), and Golden Apricot 2009 for the Best Film in the “Armenian Panorama” to “With Love and Gratitude” by Arka Manukyan (Armenia). FIPRESCI Award went to Ozcan Alper’s “Autumn” and the Ecumenical Award to George Ovashvili’s “The Other Bank”. A special prize from Kohei Oguri, President of Feature Competition Jury went to Ozcan Alper for his film “Autumn”.
The Seventh GOLDEN APRICOT Yerevan International Film Festival was held from July 11 to 18, 2010. It had more than 500 film submissions from 75 countries. Around 120 films were selected and shown during the festival. Forty-five films competed in three international competitions judged by five international juries. This was now the fifth year the festival was covered by EURONEWS. Among the honorable guests of the Festival were film legend, Claudia Cardinale, one of the most well regarded stars of Italian and French cinema, Atom Egoyan, Semih Kaplanoglu, Claire Denis, Armen Medvedev, Rob Nilsson, Stanislav Govorukhin, etc. The International Juries headed by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson (Iceland), Luciano Barisone (Italy) and Armen Medvedev (Russia) awarded the following prizes: Golden Apricot 2010 to Reha Erdem (Turkey) for the film “Kosmos” – (Feature Competition), Golden Apricot 2010 to Pavel Kostomarov (Russia) for the film “Together” – (Documentary Competition), Golden Apricot 2010 to Arman Yeritsyan and Inna Sahakyan (Armenia) for the film “The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia” – (Armenian Panorama Competition). FIPRESCI Jury Award went to Jasmila Žbanić for the film “On the Path” and the Ecumenical Jury Award went to Suren Babayan for the film “Don’t look in the Mirror”. Hrant Matevosyan prize went to Marat Sargsyan for the short film “Lernavan”, which also received the Best Short Film Award by the British Council Armenia.