Film Art

More and more people in Estonia are going to the cinema, and almost 3.7 million visits were made to cinemas in 2019. More than 40 modern digital cinemas (almost 100 screens in total) are operating in the country on occasional periods. Estonian film life is organised by the Estonian Film Institute, a foundation established by the state.

To ensure the preservation of more than 15,000 cinematographic works produced in the past century, the state has supported the restoration, digitisation and systematisation of this heritage.

A plan for the mass digitisation of Estonia’s film heritage is also under way. The creators of the Estonian Film Database, whose main goal is to compile Estonian national filmography and make it available to all interested parties via the Internet, have done a great deal of work to achieve this.


In Estonia, you can study film at Tallinn University’s Institute of Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication, which is also the only school in Northern Europe where one can study film, television and media in English.


The film industry is not directly regulated by law. However, it is indirectly regulated by the Creative Persons and Associations Act and the Copyright Act.


  • The budget of the Estonian Film Institute for 2020 is €8,331,301.
  • In 2020, the Ministry of Culture's support for film distribution and film festivals totalled €950,405.
  • In 2019, 3,685,828 visits were made to the cinema. This makes an average of 2.78 cinema visits per person per year.
  • 14 feature films were made in 2019, 15 in 2018 and 14 in 2017. The market share of domestic films rose to a record-breaking 23% in 2019.


The state mainly finances Estonian film production through the Estonian Film Institute and the Cultural Endowment. In addition, film producers can apply for support from European Union programs.

The Ministry of Culture distributes operating grants to the Estonian Film Institute, the Black Nights Film Festival and art film cinemas Artis, Sõprus, Tartu Elektriteater and cinema Kannel in Võru.

The Estonian National Culture Foundation also provides support for activities related to this field.

An additional €3 million has been earmarked in the 2021 state budget to support film production.

International activities

The Ministry of Culture has signed film production cooperation agreements with France, Israel and South Korea. State support for exports and internationalisation (incl. production, exports, international co-production) has increased.

The Estonian Film Institute's support program called Film Estonia has been launched, which aims to promote the inflow of foreign capital to Estonia as well as cooperation between Estonian and foreign film producers for the production of audiovisual works in Estonia. In 2020, the volume of supports in the state budget totals €2 million.

The state provides money for international projects from a support program called Estonian Culture in the World ("Eesti kultuur maailmas"). This program supports projects that promote the internationalisation of Estonian culture and cultural exports, as well as introducing Estonia to the world through culture and creating opportunities for Estonian creative people. Access to the international arena for cultural groups and creative entrepreneurs will also be supported.

Representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Film Institute participate in the film policy working groups and processes in the European Union and Council of Europe.

In recent years, several steps have been taken for the institutional and professional development of the Estonian film industry, i.e. the production of foreign films in Estonia is being encouraged by offering more and more production services. Several agencies are working to create optimal conditions for film crews in Estonia.

The Estonian Film Institute website provides an overview of various Estonian production companies, service providers, film associations and organizations, as well as distributors, cinemas, archives, film festivals and markets, and copyright organisations.

Important partners

Estonian Film Institute
Implementer of Estonian film policy. The EFI receives an operating grant from the Ministry of Culture budget, and in turn, it supports the creation, production and distribution of Estonian films in Estonia and abroad. It also supports the development of cross-media projects and, when possible, the development and production of high-quality television series.

The EFI is also in charge of the digitisation and popularisation of film heritage and supports the development of film science in Estonia.

The EFI owns the Tallinnfilm trademark and its legacy, as well as OÜ Artis, Tallinn Film’s cinema. 

Tallinn University’s Baltic University Institute of Film, Media, Arts and Communication (BFM)
The BFM is a competence centre for communication and audiovisual knowledge and expertise, where it is possible to acquire a BA, MA or PhD in both Estonian and English.

At the BFM, one can acquire a broad-based education in an international environment. The school's curricula provide professional training for working in a variety of professions related to film production, television, new media, communication, choreography, art and music.

Creative unions and representative organisations

Estonian Filmmakers Association
Estonian Documentary Guild
Estonian Film Directors Guild
Estonian Screenwriters' Guild
Estonian Animation Association
Estonian Society of Cinematographers
Estonian Association of Cameramen
Estonian Film Producers Association
Estonian National Producers' Association
Estonian Association of Audiovisual Authors
Estonian Film and Video Amateur Association
Estonian Film Journalists’ Association
Estonian Film Industry Cluster
Estonian Actors' Union


Siim Rohtla

Adviser (Audiovisual Field)

Last updated: 13.12.2020