The history of cinema in Estonia goes back to 1908 when the visit of Swedish King Gustav IV to Tallinn became the first newsreel ever produced. The year 1914 saw the shooting of the first feature film, political satire Bear Hunt in Pärnumaa by JOHANNES PÄÄSUKE. Although the film is rather primitivist, Pääsuke is regarded as the father of Estonian cinema. In 1924 the first Estonian full-length feature film was produced. A new level in documentaries was reached between the two World Wars. An important contributor to this achievement was the foundation of the state supported studio Eesti Kultuurifilm (Estonian Culture Film) in 1931.
Bear Hunt in Pärnumaa

The Last Relic
All film-making ceased during the years of the Second World War, and was resumed in 1947, initially under the supervision of the ideological and artistic control of film directors brought over from Russia. The beginning of 1960s brought fresh impetus to the Estonian cinema. The following decade rendered a 16th century based 'cloak-and-dagger' film VIIMNE RELIIKVIA (The Last Relic), probably the best known Estonian movie which has since provided numerous cult quotes. Other well-known films of the 1960s are The Spring, based on the start-of-the-century tales of school life. and Madness which was shelved by authorities for many years. From 1960s some 3 to 4 feature films have been made in Estonia anually.
The number of feature films has decreased in recent years; on the other hand, international co-operation in film-making has been steadily growing. However, the greatest source of pride for Estonians have been the animation films that have won several prizes at international festivals since 1971. Perhaps the best known Estonian animator is PRIIT PÄRN, whose works, full of striking absurd and loaded with visual metaphors, have initiated a whole new school.
Priit Pärn
Estonian Institute : Publications