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Finno-Ugric Days

The legacy of tribal peoples comes to life, gathering strength through music, discussions, and cinema


Estonians are one of the few Finno-Ugric peoples who can enjoy the privilege of having their own free state. Due to the twists and turns of history and political manoeuvres, other Finno-Ugric tribes must struggle against falling out of memory. But the future does not have to be hopeless. At the Finno-Ugric Days, we will draw strength from our ancient roots, share experiences of thought and film, and let the music of Veljo Tormis take our spirits on a profound journey.


The event is dedicated to the creation and tradition of Finno-Ugric tribes, bringing a multifaceted cultural programme to the Estonian National Museum from 14–15 June. Attention will be given to our neighbouring tribes whose survival is threatened by different political confrontations.

Finno-Ugric Film Festival (FUFF) “Forgotten Peoples” will take place from 14–15 June, where different film formats will be screened. The programme includes workshops that introduce the sauna traditions and handicrafts of different tribe members. The festival will also bring into being 7 experimental films in Finno-Ugric languages as the result of a 48-hour workshop consisting of international teams.

Fenno-Ugria’s seminar ’Fate of the Finno-Ugric peoples: its substantiation in culture and the political reality’ will take place on June 15 from 15.00–18.00. The presentations will recall important events and trends in the history of familiarising and substantiating Finno-Ugric cultures between the 1960s and 80s, and highlight contemporary problems and future prospects of the kindred peoples. Putin’s regime has mobilised mainly people from rural areas of Russia, and this has affected already dwindling and Russifying minority communities in an identity crisis, Finno-Ugric peoples included. Speakers will include Aimar Ventsel, ethnologist and expert on the Russian political situation, Jaak Prozes, Fenno-Ugria’s adviser, Fenno-Ugria board members: linguist Tõnu Seilenthal, folklorist Madis Arukask, Elena Kirt, board member of the Udmurt organisation Oshmes, and others. The seminar is in Estonian with simultaneous translation in English.

The culmination of the Finno-Ugric Days will take place on 15 June at 20.00 in the form of a musical performance. Under the guidance of Ingrid Mänd, Chœur de l’Orchestre de Paris will perform three parts of Veljo Tormis’s choral cycle Forgotten Peoples: Izhorian Epic, Votic Wedding Songs, Ingrian Evenings. The choir will sing in Vadja and Isuri languages and the Ingrian Finnish dialect. The premiere of the composition took place on 14 March 2023, at the Paris Philharmonic. “Forgotten Peoples” is the masterpiece of Veljo Tormis’s choral composition – a musical portrait of six Finno-Ugric tribes along the Baltic Sea. The six-part choral cycle completed between 1970 and 1989 takes on a new meaning in the French performance. The musical experience will be augmented by video and lighting design created by Alyona Movko-Mägi, conveying Finno-Ugric culture and traditions. Movko-Mägi’s design is based on materials selected from the Estonian film archive and Lennart Meri’s films.


14 June

Forgotten peoples – Finno-Ugric Film Festival

10.00-12.00 Workshop: Estonian Sauna Culture by Helen Moppel
11.00-14.00 Sewing Workshop by Kairi Orav. Bring an item of clothing that needs to be patched.
12.00-14.00 Workshop: Estonian Sauna Culture by Helen Moppel.

14.15-15.50 “TUNDRA WITHIN ME”
Artist talk + Q&A 15.50-16.00
16.00-17.20 “LYNX MAN”
Artist talk + Q&A 17.20-17.40
18.00 -19.40 “HUNGARIAN SHORTS”
Artist talk + Q&A 19.40-20.00

15 June

Forgotten peoples – Finno-Ugric Film Festival

10.00-12.00 Workshop: SHAMAN JOURNEY by Kristel Vilbaste
11.00-14.00 Sewing Workshop by Kairi Orav. Bring an item of clothing that needs to be patched.
12.00-14.00 FOREST IMMERSION, or how to talk to trees by Kristel Vilbaste.  Location: Majoraadi Park. The route may be difficult for people with mobility difficulties.

Artist talk + Q&A 13.40-14.00
14.00 -15.30 “ESTONIAN SHORTS”
Artist talk + Q&A 15.30-15.50
Artist talk + Q&A 17.20-17.30
Artist talk + Q&A 18.40-19.00

Fenno-Ugria’s seminar ’Fate of the Finno-Ugric peoples: its substantiation in culture and the political reality’

15 Opening words
15.05-15.40 Linguist Tõnu Seilenthal (Fenno-Ugria board member, University of Tartu)
15.40-16.15 ’Hingelkõnd – artists at the roots of Finno-Ugric inspiration’. Artist Kärt Summatavet (Estonian Academy of Arts, University of Tartu)
Short break
16.35-17.45 Panel discussion ’Finno-Ugric minorities in Russia: situation today and future prospects’. Fenno-Ugria adviser Jaak Prozes, Fenno-Ugria board members Madis Arukask and Elena Kirt, ethnologist Aimar Ventsel.
17.45-18.00 Questions and final words

20.00 Concert “Forgotten Peoples” V. Tormis / Chœur de l’Orchestre de Paris (conductor Ingrid Mänd)


ERM parking lots have marked accessible parking spaces. It is possible to move in ERM and between different floors with a wheelchair. ERM has two wheelchairs and two rollators for free use. An accessible toilet is located in the lobby (on the 0th floor, accessible by elevator). Descriptions of ERM building and routes in text and audio files can be found here. There are designated seats in the hall (chairs with backs), and wheelchair seats are located along the middle aisle. The sound of the concert is amplified and a hearing loop can be used. In the background of the choir, visuals are shown on the screens (no audio description). If you require assistance buying the concert tickets, please contact Piletilevi via e-mail at [email protected] or on working days from 9 am to 5 pm by phone at +372 6 248 032. If you require assistance to attend the concert, don’t hesitate to contact us. We kindly request that you notify us of your needs at least 5 business days in advance: +372 5667 2037 or [email protected].


The event cluster will draw attention to the rich heritage of the Finno-Ugric peoples, but also to the present situation, inspiring us to look at possible solutions for the future. As part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 programme, the story of Finno-Ugric peoples reaches a wider audience at home and abroad, and acquires fresh interpretations with the help of international partners.