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 Mkrtchyan and Arsen Azatyan, 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.

Celebrity Guests

Since 2005 then Atom Egoyan’s name is strongly connected to the Golden Apricot festival as for more than 10 years he was appointed a permanent President of the festival. Among the main winners of the festival there were Ararat by Atom Egoyan, 2004, The Sun by Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005, Three Times by Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2006, Import/Export by Ulrich Seidl, 2007, The Mermaid by Anna Melikian, 2008, The Other Bank by Georgy Ovashvili, 2009, Kosmos by Reha Erdem, 2010, Nader and Simin, a SeparationbyAsghar Farhadi (Iran), 2011, In The Fog by Sergey Loznitsa (Germany/Byelorussia), 2012, Circles by Srdan Golubović, (Serbia/Germany/France/Croatia/Slovenia), 2013, The Tribe by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy (Ukraine), 2014, Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra (Colombia/Venezuela/Argentina), 2015, Ungiven by Branko Schmidt (Croatia), 2016, Sanal Kumar Sasidharanwith “Sexy Durga” in 2017 and Roman Bondarchuk with “Volcano” in 2018 .

In 2009 Golden Apricot Yerevan IFF received the Hollywood Foreign Press Award which was the worthy estimation of the Armenian festival by this prestigious organization of cinema journalists and film critics. It acknowledges the international prestige and high rating of the GAIFF (http://www.gaiff.am/en/kCXwFUV83eo8rl1PQ8EDHRH6M7). The 13th GAIFF had about 1000 submissions from 91 countries. During the seven days of the festival the viewers had an opportunity to watch over 138 films. In addition to a wide range of international titles, the festival played host to an ever-expanding film market, offering a gateway to an entire region’s cinematic output.

Based on the vital need for a wide professional and cultural network Golden Apricot IFF has launched the Directors Across Borders (DAB) programme in 2007. On 30 January 2007, DAB Programme was officially recognized as the basic regional co-operation platform between Golden Apricot IFF, Rotterdam IFF and Pusan IFF. DAB is a regional network of film directors and film professionals that share a common belief that cinema is a unique medium of expression that transcends political, ideological, racial or religious borders and connects people. The aim of DAB is to determine the common problems typical for the states in transition, to facilitate film co-production projects addressing the issues of multinationals and multiculturalism, values tradition, social cohesion, diversity, and cultural heritage. DAB is dedicated to transnational and multilateral cooperation, exchange, professional training and knowledge sharing between Armenia and the region and wider. The main event of DAB program is the annual DAB Regional Co-production Forum consisting of workshops, presentations, pitching sessions, seminars, and film program. It is a unique film industry event in the region, providing an environment for regional and international film industry professionals to meet. In total 250 filmmakers and cinema journalists from the region underwent trainings and workshops organized by the DAB Project.

‘Armenia - The Apricot Revolution’ - this was the title of David D’Arcy’s article on Armenian cinema, published in Screen International on 25 July, 2008. It highlights the importance of Golden Apricot International Film Festival, which was founded in 2004 in Yerevan. The festival has been seen as a revolution in overcoming the deep crisis of national film-production in Armenia and in integration of Armenian cinema within the global film community.     D’Arcy continued: ‘At the Golden Apricot…international cinema is meeting the culture of this small nation whose Diaspora reaches from the former Soviet Union to Paris, Santa Monica and Toronto…’ Armenia does not have much film production today, but Armenia has acquired a new symbol – an international film festival, Golden Apricot. By this new symbol Armenia has got known also in the world of modern cinema.