Arts of Survival Documentaries invites Estonian and European documentary filmmakers to capture the uniqueness of the people and places of Tartu and South Estonia. Eight short documentaries will be produced by independent filmmakers under the collective title Arts of Survival, and will address a variety of 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 start-ups in Tartu. Filmmakers will be immersed in small communities across the region so they can explore differences and similarities, and identify connections to other regions of Europe.

The culmination of the programme comes in May 2024, when the eight films will have their premieres at a party taking place simultaneously in eight cities and villages across South Estonia.

Arts of Survival Documentaries

Arts of Survival Documentaries is eight short documentaries that are the result of collaborations between Estonian directors and their international peers. Expressing the uniqueness and diversity of South Estonia, the films will be screened in cinemas, on television, and in small villages throughout Estonia—and viewers who are more comfortable in evening gowns and suits will be able to enjoy these films at some of Europe’s most prestigious film festivals.

International film comeptition

We welcome submissions of short film project ideas from filmmakers from around the world to the international Arts of Survival idea contest at the end of 2022. A jury will choose eight filmmakers (four Estonian and four international), who will produce their films in Tartu and South Estonia. The Arts of Survival International Filmmakers Residency has been developed to help international filmmakers to find inspiration for their film ideas.

International filmmakers residency

The Arts of Survival International Filmmakers Residency invites up to a dozen acclaimed international film directors to Tartu and South Estonia in 2022–2023. Their exploration of small communities and vibrant cityscapes throughout South Estonia will result in artistic ideas for the Arts of Survival collection of short films.

Meet The Auteurs at Elektriteater

Film evenings showcasing the professional works of the Arts of Survival filmmakers-in-residence at Tartu’s art-house cinema, the Tartu Elektriteater, or at other small community cinemas across South Estonia. These screenings provide meeting points for the filmmakers-in-residence, the public, and the local film industry. Discussions follow each screening.


Renowned filmmakers-in-residence conduct creative masterclasses for the Estonian film industry. These masterclasses will open a window onto these filmmakers’ creative principles, working methods and styles of storytelling.

Media Study Day DocDJ

The Media Study Day DocDJ is for high school students who are interested in cinema. The Arts of Survival filmmakers-in-residence will introduce the different stages of filmmaking, from screenwriting, production and camerawork to editing and sound production. With DocDJ, we aim to help young people understand and analyse media and get an overview of the filmmaking process.