• Estonian Film Archives


In 1936, Estonia enacted the “Bylaws of Estonian Chronology of the National Archives and Build-up of Film and Photo Archive” to regulate the public maintenance of film and photo documents. The Second World War caused irreversible damage to the Estonian film fund. A large number of negatives from the Eesti Kultuurfilm (the Estonian Culture Film) that had been prepared for delivery to the archive were destroyed.

After the war the funds of the Department of Cinema, Photo and Phonographic documents of the State Central Archive of the October Revolution and Socialist Construction of Soviet Estonia were mostly closed to the public, in line with the ideological framework of the Soviet period. In 1971, the National Central Archive of Film, Photo and Phonographic Documents of Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (FFFRKA) began operating work.

In connection with re-establishment of Estonian independence in 1991, the basics of the archive’s work changed considerably. The opening of formerly classified funds had begun already in 1987.

Since 1999 the Estonian Film Archives has been a structural unit of the National Archive of Estonia.

Administrative Structure

Since 1999 the Estonian Film Archives has been a structural unit of the National Archive of Estonia. For information about the administrative structure of the Film Archive, see here.

Records Management and Collecting Policies

During 1970-1980, the archive generally held 15 major collection sources, including film studio Tallinnfilm, Estonian Television, Estonian Radio, Estonian Telegraph Agency (ETA), and editorial boards of national newspapers and magazines. Items to be archived also arrived from other archives, museums, and private collections of photographers and other private persons.

Archival and Other Holdings

The archival holdings are divided into 3 groups:

  • Film collection: there are over 8,000 film titles stored, of which 6,100 (in 20,910 cans) have been technically processed and registered (as January 1, 2008).
  • Photo collection: there are almost 500,000 photo documents stored; 265 035 of these have been described and belong to 522 different fonds (in this Archive called "archive") (as of January 1, 2001).
  • Audio collection: tapes, shellac, vinyl and CD records are stored in 18 archives. There are more than 7,000 sound recordings of archival value in the collection of sound recordings (as of January 1, 2008). For further information, see here.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

You can search data from the Movie and Sound collections in the online database Film Archive Information System (FIS). The titles and descriptions are Estonian. You can search data from photo collections in the online database of the Estonian National Archives (FOTIS).

The Reading Room offers different manual alphabetical, chronological and other card files and finding aids.

Opening Times

Monday through Friday 9.00 — 16.00

Conditions of Access

Researchers have free access to the archived items, provided the technical status of the latter allows for such use and that this use is not restricted under contractual relationships concerning private property.

Research Services

A consultant is available in the reading room to assist researchers. Languages spoken by staff: Estonian, Russian, English. Visitors may use card files, finding aids, and PCs for online databases. It is possible to review films, view photos, listen to audio documents, and subscribe copies.

Reproduction Services

  • Temporary lending of film copies.

  • Reproduction of video copies (DVD, DVCAM, DV, BETACAM-SP, VHS, avi file)

  • Photographic reproductions.

  • Photo scanning, for prints of size 10x15 cm up to 30x40 cm.

  • Reproductions from audio tapes, audio cassettes and audio discs to audio cassettes and CDs.

Applicable fees

License fees

Public Areas

No availability of free internet.


  • Entry added on October 13, 2014 by Meelis Maripuu based on public information, finding aids available at the homepage of the Estonian Film Archives, and personal experience. ClaimsCon'06/online search