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Arts of Survival Documentaries

Arts of Survival Documentaries invites Estonian and European documentary filmmakers to capture the unique people and places of Tartu and South Estonia, promote international networking, share experiences and skills. As a result, eight short documentaries about South Estonia will be produced by independent filmmakers under the collective name "Arts of Survival" addressing various topics from robotics clubs to the uniqueness of our wetland areas, from active local communities to the legacy of Jüri Lotman, Uku Masing or Jaan Kaplinski, from rustic grocery stores in rural areas to startups in Tartu. Filmmakers will be immersed in the small communities all over the region to explore their differences and/or similarities and find connections with other regions of Europe.

People at the film festival.
10. Jan Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu


At the end of 2022, filmmakers worldwide can submit their short film project treatments to an idea contest on the subject “Arts of Survival”. A jury will choose eight acclaimed filmmakers (four Estonian and four international) to produce their films in Tartu and South Estonia. We invite the authors to introduce Tartu and South Estonia in artistically exciting ways so that the short films can be seen as independent works and at the same time also form a unified collection of short documentary films “Arts of Survival”. To assist international filmmakers in finding ideas for their films, we will organise an international residency programme in 2022 and 2023 open to all filmmakers worldwide.

More information is coming in 2022.


Arts of Survival International Filmmakers Residency will invite a dozen acclaimed film directors to Tartu and South Estonia in 2022 and 2023. The residency will allow filmmakers to see inside the small communities all over the region to explore their differences and/or similarities and find connections with their own regions. The result of the residencies will be artistic ideas, which can be realised as part of the European Cultural Capital Tartu 2024 “Arts of Survival” collection of short films or otherwise in collaboration with the creators of our region.


Retrospectives will be a series of film screenings showcasing the professional works and films of the residing filmmakers in collaboration with Tartu arthouse cinema Tartu Elektriteater. Retrospectives will be a meeting point between the residents, the public and the local film industry. A discussion with the filmmaker will follow each film screening.


Each resident has an opportunity to choose their contribution to the community – they can either conduct a media study day for local schools or a masterclass for local filmmakers. The masterclass aims to share experiences and knowledge about filmmaking and introduce their methods and technical tools that lead their creative process and filmmaking.


The media study day is for high school students interested in filmmaking. The programme introduces different stages of filmmaking (screenwriting, production, camerawork, editing, sound production, etc.), field-specific terminology and occupations. The study day will give the ability to understand and analyse audiovisual media for high school students and gain an overview of the process of making a film, which may be the future starting point of their own creative journey.


In May 2024, eight short documentary films will simultaneously premiere in selected cities and villages in South Estonia. The films will screen in the local communities’ most important cultural meeting points – cinemas, cultural centres, schools, etc. The event will be born in a collaborative atmosphere working hand-in-hand with the filmmakers, community and local government.

Main organizer:

NGO Tartu Filmiselts

[email protected]

Kalevi tn 13, 51010, Tartu, Estonia

Anna-Liisa Ingver

Project Manager, tel: +372 59035589, e-mail: [email protected]

Kaarel Kuurmaa

Artistic Director, tel: +372 5655357, e-mail: [email protected]

Liisa Nurmela

Producer and Marketing and Communications Manager, tel: +372 51974945, e-mail: [email protected]