The Cinematic Programme of the Arts of Survival seeks to explore, study and share the uniqueness of the Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 area through the medium of cinema.  

Under the auspices of “Arts of Survival”, eight short films will be completed by 2024 in collaboration with Estonian creators and top directors from around the world, which will address various topics from children's robotics clubs to the natural uniqueness of our wetland areas, from active local community societies to the legacy of Jüri Lotman, Uku Masing or Jaan Kaplinski, from resurrected grocery stores in rural areas to startups in the city of Tartu. The aim of the documentaries to be completed is to capture, in an artistically high level of cinematography, an honest picture of the various natural and socio-cultural ways of survival, based on the example of the people, places and cultures of Southern Estonia, in the period immediately preceding the year of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024. 

The films will be selected at a competition for ideas held at the start of 2022, where the creators will present a description of their short film project on the theme “Arts of Survival”. The format of the competition enables us to find different themes and authors to introduce Tartu and Southern Estonia in an artistically exciting way so that the short films can be seen as independent works, but at the same time form a unified whole with a shared cultural theme, or a collection of short documentary films “Arts of Survival”.  

The involvement of international directors ensures that even people from other parts of Europe will be able to identify with these stories of Southern Estonia, and the Estonian directors in turn are given the opportunity to offer a vision of how we ourselves wish to make sense of our life here. Through the external and internal creator's eye, a two-sided honest picture of life in Tartu and Southern Estonia is brought to the screens.  


The International Filmmakers Residency Programme will invite a dozen acclaimed documentary film directors to Tartu and Southern Estonia in 2022 and 2023. The result of the residencies will be artistic ideas, which can be realised as part of the “Arts of Survival” collection of short films or otherwise in collaboration with the creators of our region.  


In cooperation with Tartu arthouse cinema Elektriteater, meeting evenings in the form of retrospectives are taking place, during which directors residing in Southern Estonia introduce themselves through their works to Tartu’s cinema enthusiasts. In the course of the film evenings, selected films are shown on the big screen, and after the sessions it is possible to discuss the issues raised in the films with the directors?  


Directors residing in Estonia also conduct a masterclass, which is an open meeting where an artist opens the door to their creative space. It involves introducing their methods, creative principles and technical tools, i.e. how and through which devices they tell their stories. This is a multi-hour meeting, preferably from professional to professional (or future professional), which is structured depending on the preferences of the organiser. It can take place in the so-called artist talk format, curated interview, lecture, viewing and discussion of film fragments, or in the form of questions and answers with an audience.


In addition to the masterclass, residents conduct a media training day or DocDJ, a programme aimed at the youth of upper secondary schools. Training days take place in the regions of Southern Estonia where the residents reside. The DocDJ programme introduces young people to the most important stages of filmmaking (screenplay, storytelling, production, camerawork, editing, sound production, etc.), field-specific terminology and occupations. The training day gives young people the ability to understand and analyse audiovisual media and gain an overview of the process of making a film, which may be the future starting point of their own creative journey.  


The marketing lab is primarily aimed at the film producers selected for the Tartu 2024 Cinematic Programme, but more broadly to other filmmakers, students and cultural organisers in the Nordic and Baltic countries as well. The marketing lab lecturers are specialists from the Nordic and Baltic countries and from various fields of activity, who also support cross-sectoral collaboration and exchange of practices. The goal of the marketing lab is to increase the competence of filmmakers in the distribution of films and storytelling across different forms of media and to help adapt to the future scenarios of the audiovisual landscape.

The lab is seeking answers to the following questions:

What will the audience of the future be like? How can we reach the audience through segmentation and value supply? How can we reach Generation Z through movies? How and with what messages can we tell the same story through different media? What platforms could we use for the distribution of the movies?  


By the beginning of 2024, eight short documentary films will be completed within the framework of the Arts of Survival Cinematic Programme, providing an honest picture of life in Tartu and Southern Estonia just before the year of the Capital of Culture. We will be screening the films in selected cities and villages in Southern Estonia on the first weekend of May 2024. The premiere is scheduled to take place simultaneously, in cultural meeting points that are important to the communities – cinemas, cultural centres, schools, etc. The premieres will take place in the exact locations where the filming of the short films took place. It is important for us that premieres are born in collaboration with the community and local government representatives so that everyone has a chance to contribute. The event is primarily aimed at local people, but filmmakers and actors are also welcome to visit. It is a cinematic celebration from person to person, allowing the spirits captured in the movies to reach beyond the cinema screen.


The project is organised by:

Anna-Liisa Ingver, Project Manager, tel: +372 59035589, e-mail:

Kaarel Kuurmaa, Artistic Director, tel: +372 5655357, e-mail:

Liisa Nurmela, Producer and Marketing and Communications Manager, tel: +372 51974945, e-mail:


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