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Tbilisi International Film Festival was first established in 2000. The festival was born within a larger art festival framework entitled Gift, which carried numerous supporters and sponsors. Consequently, the festival at that time was able to have an interesting and diverse program. Faced by the threat of closure in 2002, a circle of friends and co-thinkers (Gaga Chkheidze, Nino Anjaparidze, Lasha Bakradze, Davit Bukhrikidze, Besik Danelia, Guga Kotetishvili, Gaga Lomidze and Giorgi Kajrishvili) decided to set up the Cinema Art Center, Prometheus to maintain the festival alongside the coordination of other projects. In spite of scarce financial resources, the 2002 festival went on to be held by the Cinema Art Center, Prometheus.

Prometheus was ultimately successful in attracting the attention of governmental agencies, and in 2004 the Georgian National Film Centre provided their financial support alongside other private sponsors. A couple of years later, the Ministry of Culture and Tbilisi Municipality also contributed their support. 

The key aims of the festival are to introduce the Georgian public with new works of high artistic value — made in Georgia proper, and worldwide — and inform them of new trends in world cinema, in tandem with supporting the development of the Georgian cinema industry.

Meetings of professionals in the cinema community, workshops, master classes, retrospectives and other industry events organized within the festival's frameworks give motivation to young cinematographers and encourage them to develop their talent and artistic vision. We strive to turn the festival into a gathering place for filmmakers, producers, sales agents and distributors in the South Caucasus. The festival has grown in significance on a worldwide scale; the number of filmmakers willing to participate in the festival, via numerous pathways, is increasing year after year.

The most exciting part of the Tbilisi International Film Festival is the International competition in which 10 - 12 directorial debut or second full length feature films by European directors participate. Since the Festival takes place in December, we have the advantage of selecting films that have already gained popularity at different festivals in other parts of the world.
There are two official prizes for the categories: Best Film (Gold Prometheus) and Best Director (Silver Prometheus). In addition to the golden and the silver Prometheus, we also have non-official prizes — an example being the Parajanov Award for Outstanding Poetic Vision. Different organizations are also encouraged to fund the event with various prizes. In 2011 Bank of Georgia established an award for Georgian Panorama film; the award was given to WILL THERE BE A THEATRE UP THERE?! by Nana Janelidze.

The concept of the festival was clear from its very inception: it was intended to operate as a European Film Festival, which is why the Forum of European Cinema plays a huge role during this event. During this program we screen the best, recent European films.

A long-standing category, ‘Horizons’ consists of films from a diverse ensemble of filmmakers working from beyond the boundaries of Europe. 

Tbilisi International Film Festival brings great emphasis and awareness to the process and purpose of Georgian cinema. Every year the festival screens the latest Georgian films to a diverse audience. The Film Festival paves a way for local, upcoming filmmakers to be on the same pedestal and to compete on an international stage.

Since 2005, Tbilisi International Film Festival has closely cooperated with its loyal partner Goethe Institute, presenting new German films annually under the program, "Made in Germany".

One of the traditions of the festival is the Director in Focus section. This section shows a small retrospective of a selected guest director during the event. After the screening the director holds a Q & A discussion with the audience, and will often conduct a Master class session for students or anyone who is interested in the film industry. 
In 2001 the festival had the privilege of having Leos Carax as a guest director. In previous years guest directors included the likes of Ulrike Ottinger, Hugh Hudson, Bob Rafelson, Mike Leigh, Joe Wright, Patrick Cazals and Harutyun Khachatryan .

The Tbilisi International Film Festival annually host well-known directors, producers, actors and cameramen. This section screens various films by one artist, and post-screening it is emphatic that the artist hold a "meet and greet" with the audience. In addition, the festival always honors the works of Georgians who have made a great contribution to the development of Georgian cinema. Examples of this are the celebration of100 years of Nato Vachnadze and Michael Kalatozishvili, 80 years of Sergey Parajanov, and 70 years of Mikheil Kobakhidze and Irakli Kvirikadze.

Over a period of eighteen years, the festival has hosted more than 1000 film directors, producers, actors, film experts, documentalists. During these years, TIFF was privileged to host honorable International filmmakers such as Bob Rafelson (USA), Vanessa Redgrave (UK), Leos Carax (France), Greta Scacchi (UK), Mike Leigh (UK), Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland), Mika Kaurismaki (Finland), Franco Nero (Italy), Bruno Dumont (France), Hugh Hudson (USA), Maryam D'Abo (USA), Jafar Panahi (Iran), Franc Roddam (UK), Sergey Solovyov (Rissia), Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey), Helma Sanders-Brahms (Germany), Joe Wright (UK), Jim Stark (USA) and others; as well as Georgian filmmakers and actors working abroad: Otar Iosseliani, Mikheil Kobakhidze, Irakli Kvirikadze, Nana Jorjadze, Nino Kirtadze, Mikheil Kalatozishvili, Dito Tsintsadze, Merab Ninidze and others.

Some of the major partners and supporters of theTbilisi International Film Festival are Erika and Ulrich Gregors, co-founders of the Berlin International Film Festival, who are consistently and enthusiastically consulting the Festival's organizers. The Festival's acknowledged supporters include Peter Scarlet, and established actress Maryam D'Abo. The festival cooperates with foreign embassies and international organizations such as Goethe Institute and French Institute, as well as international publishing agencies, such as Hollywood Reporter and Screen Daily.