The first 2ANNAS film festival took place in 1996 at the Center of Creative Learning ANNAS 2 (CCL) as the only youth and experimental film festival in Latvia. The program consisted of only 10 short films and its goal was to support and promote the interest of film art in Latvia.

Gradually the festival grew and in 2005 the film selection crossed the Latvian border and 2ANNAS became an international film festival. The transition led to a change of strategy for the festival and in 2006 it highlighted the new criteria for festival selections - quality, flexibility, innovation, and openness. In 2007 2ANNAS introduced many changes and updates. One of them is the sub-festival "Green Anna" - an international competition program consisting of short films made by filmmakers under 18. Another addition to the festival was a separate Baltic competition program for filmmakers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which is closely connected to the foundation of the Baltic Film and Media School in Tallinn (Estonia) in 2005. The festival also adopted a one-week event format.

In about ten years the festival evolves from a small independent event into one of the biggest film festivals in Latvia with a film selection consisting of 31 short films from 9 different countries (2007). In 2008 the festival starts to position itself as the largest short film festival in the Baltics. Festival's 2009 selection consists of 42 short films from 18 different countries. And now we receive about 3000 short films from 90 different countries, select an average of 68 films in the competition. 

The year 2012 brought a new step - festival became RIGA International Short Film Festival thus becoming the first independent short film and audiovisual art festival in the history of Baltic states.  In 2013 2ANNAS became a member of the European Film Academy (EFA) and started the annual tradition of showing the EFA short film program SHORT MATTERS.

In 2015 a new competition program was added - the International Medium Lenght Competition (30-60 min) becoming the Riga International Film Festival 2ANNAS.

Since the year 2013 2ANNAS IFF, along with the competition program, annual and special screenings (e.g. Latvian Film Premiere Screening, Film School program, Cinema Concert), the festival offers an extensive Focus Programme, offering research on a socially relevant topic through the expressions of modern and historical film art.  

Since 2013, the festival has also been developing a thematic out-of-competition program. The out-of-competition section of the festival focuses on a theme and looks at how it is portrayed in cinema today and in the context of historical development. This section resembles some extent a film lecturer who reviews the selected subject every year, presenting his most significant works, and introductory words and discussions accompany the film. Given the significant increase in international visitors, 2ANNAS is increasingly focusing on screening Latvian films, giving a specific insight into the development of our own cinema history.

2013 - 2015 festival program WOMEN, BORDERS, MEN.

2016 - 2018 festival programs WANDERERS, OUTSIDERS, and CITIZENS. The anniversary year of the Republic of Latvia - 2018, 2ANNAS focuses on the out-of-competition program CITIZENS. The theme explored how cinema reflects the specific traditions and music of different nations. Film programs will also look at issues of national identity and explore the interplay between the individual and the state apparatus, as well as address the breakthroughs of the state, the revolutions.

2020-2022 festival programs SPACE, EARTH, and PEOPLE. In recent decades, our lifestyle has changed beyond recognition. Rapid advances in technology have affected both the planet Earth and the way of life and health of humans, and astronomical discoveries are raising the question of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the ability of humans to travel in time and space.

The purpose of the focus cycle is to stimulate public debate on selected topics.

GRAND PRIX Golden Anna winners

Year Film title Director Country
2007 Safety-matches Didzis Eglītis Latvia
2008 Reality Show  Federico Schmucler Mexico
2009 Orgesticulanismus Labaye Mathieu Belgium
2010 Echo Magnus von Horn Poland
2011 The Cage Adrian Sitaru Romania
2012 Il Capo Yuri Ancarani Italia
2013 Plug & Play Michael Frei Switzerland
2014 Castratus the Boar Lauris Abele, Raitis Abele Latvia
2015 Yes, We Love Hallvar Witzø Norway
2016 A Man Returned  Mahdi Fleifel  UK, Lebanon, Netherlands, Denmark
2017 What happened to her  Kristy Guevara–Flanagan USA
2018 This magnificent Cake! Marc James Roels, Emma De Swaef Belgium
2020 Naked in the streets at night  Benoit Rambourg France
2021 The Last Hour Christian Delgado, Nicolás Testoni Argentina
2022 Dad's Sneakers Olha Zhurba Ukraine
2023 Neighbour Abdi Douwe Dijkstra Netherlands