When the First Tehran International Animation Festival was held in 1999, four decades had passed from the time the production of animation films had started in Iran and it was more than three decades animation films were being made in the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA) . However, Iranian animation films were exhibited on the sideline of the festivals or in competition sections, beside documentary or fiction films. And all of this in spite of the fact that excellent animation films made by Iranian artists had had a successful presence on International scenes, where they had won many awards and were well known.
The inaugural of Tehran International Animation Festival in February 1999 came to fill the gap of an exclusively animation film festival with specialized focus. A festival that with the task of bringing together Iranian and foreign animators and animation films and providing a showcase for unknown potentials of this type of cinema. 896 films from Iran and 32 other countries applied for participation in the festival, of which 488 titles were selected for screening during the four days of the event. Other highlights of the first edition of the Festival were special screenings dedicated to commemoration of Feodor Khitrouk (well-known Russian Animator) and Esfandiar Ahmadieh (Father of Iranian animation cinema), who were themselves present in the event, as well as exhibition of animation films of Studio Pannonia of Hungary, ASIFA of South Korea, and works from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Russia. Retrospectives of works of Brunno Bozzetto and Ali Akbar Sadeghi and screening of student animation films were other sections of the festival. The festival also paid homage to Jean-Luc Xiberras whose name is interwoven with Annecy Festival. The Jury of the International Competition consisted of Detelina Grigorova Kreck (Germany), Sergei Aleksandrovich Alimov (Russia), Ali Akbar Sadeghi (Iran), Nikola Majdak (Yugoslavia), Jiri Kubicek (Czeck Republic). Films of the Iranian Competition Section were judged by Ali Akbar Sadeghi, Akbar Alemi, Esfandiar Ahmadieh, Nafisseh Riahi, Saeid Tavakkolian, Ebrahim Forouzesh and Abolfazl Razani. Publication of a catalogue, daily bulletins and an anthology of articles on animation cinema under the title of Daydreams, organization of a competition of scriptwriting for animation films, and broadcasting of a daily program on National TV network were among the other activities of the First Edition of the Tehran International Animation Festival.
The Second Tehran International Animation Festival, held in February 2001, was even more successful; the number of foreign countries participating rose to 35 and the quality of the submitted works were higher. Along with the National and International Competition sections, other highlights of the festival included a special screening of a selection of animations of National Film Board of Canada under the heading of Dreams of the Snowland, exhibition of a selection of films of Aardman Animation Studio called Light in the Fog, as well as a retrospective of works of Nooreddin Zarrinkelk and commemoration of Nafisseh Riahi (first woman animator of Iran). Two Decades With Oscar (1979-1999), a section dedicated to "dialogue among civilizations", and Festival of Festivals, Student Animation Films, Animation for Children, were other highlights of the Second Tehran International Animation Festival. Organization of a film market, exhibitions, sessions of interview with filmmakers, as well as publication of the book Awakening of Dreams, the full catalogue of the festival, and daily bulletins, were among the other activities of the Festival. At the sideline of the main programs, Swedish Animation Teacher Erling Ericsson taught the basics of production of animation films to Iranian children. The International Jury of the Second Tehran International Animation Festival consisted of Bretislav Pojar (Czech Republic), Sayoko Kinoshita (Japan), Nelson Shin (South Korea), Tiziana Loschi (France), Hamid Navim (Iran). Ali Akbar Sadeghi, Ebrahim Forouzesh, Akbar Alemi, Abolfazl Razani, Abdollah Alimorad, Saeed Tavakkolian and Nahid Shamsdoost were the members or the Jury of Iranian Competition.
The Second Tehran International Animation Festival was more enthusiastically received by the people working in the field of production of animation film and a broader press attention.