APRICOT TREE UJAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL or simply Ujan IFF takes place annually in the beginning of Autumn in Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan and the village of Ujan. It is as much a celebration of anthropological and ethnographic documentary films that depict the heartbeats of diverse ethnic groups and communities, as it is a platform where filmmakers from around the world can meet, share and discuss ideas in a friendly atmosphere and possibly make plans for future collaborations.
First implemented in 2015, the festival (then called Apricot Tree International Ethno Film Festival) was founded with the goal to highlight the importance and relevance of documentary filmmaking, while also acquainting audiences with the customs and traditions, arts and craft of big and small nations, the emotional and mental state of the modern urban and rural human and making young filmmakers interested in the ethnographic and anthropological material, stimulating their creative search in that direction.
Over the years the festival has undergone many changes. If in 2015 the screenings and festival events were limited to Yerevan only, then in 2016 Apricot Tree, now being implemented by the newly founded FILMADARAN Film Culture Development NGO, extended its branches to Gyumri (second largest city) and the village of Ujan, just 40 minutes away from Yerevan.
Considering that the vast majority of cultural events in Armenia are very much centralized in the capital, it was decided to entirely implement the 2017 edition in a village, thus making villagers also participants in the cultural life of the country. In our times of dramatic and inevitable urbanization it is highly important to provide the rural population, people who may move to big cities in the future, with the opportunity to get acquainted and be educated in world culture and the art of filmmaking in particular.
Taking into account the overall success of the 2017 edition, a decision was made to rename the festival to Apricot Tree Ujan International Film Festival and make Ujan its permanent home, while continuing to have screenings in Yerevan and the ambition of organizing side-events and screenings in various villages and smaller cities of the country.
Apricot Tree does not have red carpets and grandiose official ceremonies. Instead, the festival aims at creating a cozy friendly environment where participants can bond with one another and the audience, gain new knowledge about the world by watching each other’s films and not least of all – have fun. A key element in creating this atmosphere is having the participants stay in the villagers’ houses, sharing bread with the hospitable people of Ujan every day, getting to know the everyday life of an Armenian village. Also through various excursions to museums and landmarks participants of the festival are given the opportunity to get acquainted with Armenian culture and history.
Daily Movie Conversations are held, where participants talk about various aspects and problems of documentary filmmaking that they’ve encountered. In addition to that, an annual round table conference is organized within the frames of the festival, where various issues of contemporary cinema are discussed.
Ujan IFF has two competition programs – Feature-Length Documentaries (>40) and Short Documentaries (<40). The festival also has a Non-Competition section that includes retrospectives and screenings of notable films and directors relevant to the festival’s theme and goals.
Jury & Awards
The Jury, operating on a democratic basis with equal votes for everyone, hands out the following awards:
• Grand Prix – Feature-Lenght Competition (>40)
• Special Jury Prize – Feature-Length Competition (>40)
• Grand Prix – Short Film Competition (<40)
• Special Jury Prize – Short Film Competition (<40)
Also, special prizes are given by the Ujan Community Council and FILMADARAN Film Culture Development NGO.