Audiovisual Arts and Media Studies

The programme facilitates two modes of study: creative practice based audiovisual arts studies and empirical media studies. The curriculum focuses on contemporary forms and phenomena of media and audiovisual arts, first and foremost media content and media production research. Special focus is given to the processes of change in media and arts.

Study level PhD studies

Duration of study 4 years

Language Estonian English

Available places 2

The importance of audiovisual culture and industry is on the rise in contemporary society and BFM has a special area of responsibility in Estonia to develop the Estonian audiovisual culture. Thus although the curriculum is planned to be interdiciplinary we put special emphasis on themes of audiovisual culture and contemporary digital culture. This means relying to a significant extent on humanities based approaches, but we lead an interdiciplinary dialogue with other approaches especially with economics based approaces to media and the audiovisual industries. A special kind of attention will be given to the role of media in education and to the questions of audiovisual literacy and didactics.

The curriculum has two parallel main objectives:

  • to support independent empirical doctoral research in contemporary media and communication cultures, primarily in the fields of digital and audiovisual media;
  • to support the production of media and film projects as practice-based artistic doctoral research projects;

In both study areas the focus is also on developing the necessary skills and knowledge to a high level. An additional objective is to support the students preparation for careers in teaching and conducting research by developing the necessary pedagogical and research organisation competences.

The central idea behind the practice-based doctoral thesis is that creative work can be also a form of research, only one accomplished using different means and modalities. In the context of this study programme, the research is carried out and/or reflected using different (above all, audiovisual) media, not only written argumentation.

Available Vacancies

There are two vacancies in the curriculum in 2023 with a free topic.

Course Outline

Full-time studies

  • PhD studies consist of a course component and a thesis component. Many of the courses are based on individual work and demand close co-operation with the supervisor.
  • Some subject courses and all general courses will have contact meetings. Not all the general courses will be offered in English every year.
  • PhD students must participate in the PhD seminars throughout their studies.
  • The official full-time study period of PhD studies is four years.

Core course components

  • Introduction to Media and Audiovisual Culture Studies
  • Theories of Creativity
  • Special Seminar on Audiovisual Arts 
  • Special Seminar on Media Studies

Study programme 2023/2024

Academic Staff

Both the academic staff responsible for the curriculum and those partly responsible for teaching the curriculum have well established networks and work on novel research. Katrin Tiidenberg is in the executlive committee of the Association of Internet Research. Ulrike Rohn is the president of EMMA: European Media Management Association and the editor of the Journal of Media Business Studies. Indrek Ibrus is a member of European Commission’s European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual, Dr. Pia Tikka is a filmmaker and EU Mobilitas Research Professor. Her research group Enactive Virtuality studies psychophysiological and emotional basis of narratives and cinematic systems etc. BFM researchers and the teaching staff have lately been granted European Union funded research and development projects. Doctoral students can also participate in these projects.


Indrek Ibrus, PhD is professor of media innovation and head of Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture. He holds a PhD from London School of Economics and Political Science and a MPhil from the University of Oslo. He was the initiator of the Crossmedia Production MA programme at BFM. He recently served for two years as the audiovisual advisor at Estonian Ministry of Culture. In relation to this he was Estonia’s representative at the audiovisual working group of the European Council, at European Commission’s AVMSD Contact Group and at Council of Europe’s Steering Committe for Media and Information Society. Currently he serves as the member of Estonia’s Digital Cultural Heritage Council.
He is a co-editor of Baltic Screen Media Review, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to audiovisual cultures around the Baltic Sea. He has edited also special issues of the International Journal of Communication and International Journal of Cultural Studies. Together with Carlos A. Scolari he co-edited Crossmedia Innovations: Texts, Markets, Institutions, published by Peter Lang in 2012.

Indrek's research profile on ETIS


Katrin Tiidenberg, PhD is the curator of the Screen Media and Innovation MA Programme and Professor of Participatory Culture. She has published extensively on selfie culture and her main research interests focus on the intersections of (visual) self-presentation on social media and dominant normative ideologies. Her research topics include deplatformization of sex, technology and wellbeing, visual research methosd and digital research ethics. She is on the Executive Board of the Association of Internet Researchers and the Estonian Young Academy of Sciences

Katrin's research profile on ETIS.


Ulrike Rohn, PhD is a professor of Media Economics and Management at the Baltic, Film, Media, Arts and Communication School (BFM). She is also President of the European Media Management Association (emma), Associate Editor of the Journal of Media Business Studies (Taylor & Francis), and Co-Editor of the Springer Series in Media Industries. Previously, Ulrike was a Researcher at the Arcada University in Helsinki (Finland) and the University of Tartu (Estonia). She has been a guest researcher and lecturer at universities in the UK, Sweden, China, and Austria. She has worked in leading media companies in Germany, Japan, India, and the US.

Ulrike received her PhD in 2009 from the University of Jena. Her MA comes from the Freie University of Berlin (both Germany). Her research and teaching includes topics on audiovisual industries, European audiovisual policy, (international) media strategies, media business models, media branding, and cross-cultural audience demand.

Ulrike's research profile on ETIS.


Andres Jõesaar, PhD has a long experience in the media and telecom industries, especially on the management, content side and media research. In the 90s he was one of the founding members of the private television channel RTV and the general director of the commercial broadcaster TV3. From 2000 - 2011 he was the director for the content services in the Estonian branch of the Tele2. Between 2000-2012. Jõesaar has been the chairman of the Council of the Estonian Public Broadcasting. He has been a member and chair of several Council of Europe’s and OSCE expert groups. During 2011-2018 he was head of media research department at the Estonian Public Broadcasting.

Andres's research profile on ETIS.


Riho Västrik is a documentary filmmaker and producer who has taught at BFM since 2009. He is the curator of the Audiovisual Media BA study programme and the Documentary Film MA study program. 

Read the interview with Riho Västrik conducted by Documentary Film students at the BFM Film and Media Blog.

Riho Västrik's ETIS profile.


Pia Tikka is Research Professor at the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School. She has joined MEDIT after winning Estonian Research Council’s Top Researcher Grant.

Dr. Tikka is a filmmaker and scholar whose research concerns psychophysiological and emotional basis of cinematic systems. Prior to her joining BFM, she was the Principal Investigator for the NeuroCine project at Aalto University in Finland. In 2010, she was a Fulbright scholar in the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the University of Southern California and a researcher in residency in Neuroaesthetics at the Minerva Foundation, Berkeley. She was also a Visiting Research Fellow in the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, UK (2009-2011), and a lecturer in Film Theory and Film Analysis at the Baltic School of Film and Media at Tallinn University (2006-2007).

As a filmmaker, Dr. Tikka has directed the feature films Daughters of Yemanjá (1996) and Sand Bride (1998). She has also been involved in various interactive media projects, such as the Academy of Finland-sponsored Enactive Cinema, winning such awards as the Möbius Prix Nordic prize for interactive storytelling in 2005 and exhibiting her work internationally.

Pia's research profile on ETIS.


Dirk Hoyer  is a German born filmmaker and scholar. He obtained his Master degree from the Sorbonne and his Doctor of Arts from Aalto University.

Dirk directed and wrote feature films and documentary films. In his research he focuses on Estonian cinema of the 90s, Dimitri Kirsanoff, the role of political imagination in contemporary culture and on storytelling.

Dirk Hoyer in ETIS.

Dirk Hoyer on IMDB.




Teet Teinemaa is a lecturer in Film Studies at Baltic Film, Media and Arts School. Teinemaa’s main research interests are Estonian and Eastern European film, nostalgia, and the representations of masculinities and aging. He defended his PhD thesis at the University of Warwick and his theses focuses on the American multi-protagonist film and the theoretical thinking of Jacques Rancière and Slavoj Žižek.

Teet Teinemaa has also studies at Maastricht University and has an MA from the University of York in Film and Literature Studies and an MA from Tallinn University in Cultural Theory.

Teet Teinemaa in ETIS

Elen Lotman is a cinematographer who has shot numerous feature films, shorts and documentaries. For various film projects she has travelled to Japan, Tibet, China, Thailand, India, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Lapland and the Russian Arctic. Her films have won awards and have been shown in competition programs of A-class film festivals like Camerimage, IDFA, Tampere Film Festival, Black Nights Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival etc. Most recently, her full-length documentary ‘Dear Mother’ was nominated for Best Cinematography at the ReelHeart Filmfestival in Toronto and won the Best Feature Documentary in 2020. Full-length fiction ‘Good Bye Soviet Union’ was nominated for Camerimage Golder Frog in the Directors’ Debuts Competition and won the Black Nights Film Festival audience award in 2021. Her feature film screenplay ‘Container’ made it to the quarterfinalist at the American Film Academy Nicholl screenwriting competition 2021 and her virtual exhibitions filmed for Tallinn Art Hall were chosen among world’s 10 best virtual exhibitions of 2020 by both New York Times and Wallpaper Magazine.
Elen Lotman is the Associate Professor of Film Arts at Baltic Film, Media and Arts School (BFM) of Tallinn University and curates the artistic research branch in BFM PhD studies. Elen was elected co-President of the European Federation of Cinematographers (IMAGO) after serving as IMAGO Board Member and also Diversity and Inclusion Committee co-chair. She defended her PhD thesis titled “Experiential Heuristics in Fiction Film Cinematography” with laudatur in 2021.

Admission Requirements

PhD admissions start in May 2024.

For general requirements, please read admission to PhD Studies here.

The doctoral candidate position consists of four years of full-time study. The studies at doctoral level include a documented research project and a course section.

The applicant must have:

  • a Master’s degree or equivalent within education programmes on audiovisual artistic practices or media and communication studies
  • shown the purpose of and plan for the intended research
  • proof of English proficiency (B2 level).

The application and interview

The application should be written in English or in Estonian and be uploaded digitally into SAIS (for Estonians) or DreamApply (for foreigners). The application should consist of:

  • A research plan (no more than 5 pages) that contains the following (see also
  • A justification for the importance of the research topic
  1.  A description of the research project, its research questions, methodologies and research  strategies
  2. Your schedule for completion of required studies (60 ECTS)
  3. A plan for funding
  4. Any reference material you would like to include can be uploaded or enclosed as links.
  5. Names of the potential supervisors, who have agreed to supervise your thesis
  • CV (If the applicant has a portfolio or homepage (of previous works/projects) it should be linked to CV)
  • Motivation letter for choosing the Tallinn University as the site of doctoral research and motivation for selecting the doctoral programme.
  • A copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent) and a copy of a detailed transcript of studies included in the degree.
  • The interview with the candidate is based on the proposal for the doctoral thesis that is agreed with the prospective supervisor.


The selection of applications to proceed in the process is based on the following criteria:

  • the quality of the project and the feasibility of it being carried out within the given time frame (i.e. in a period corresponding to four years’ full-time study);
  • the quality of the research plan with regard to the delimitations of the subject area, its relevance, originality, research questions, connection to and relevance for the related collective knowledge area and methodology development;
  • in case of artistic projects the applicant’s suitability for artistic research work and capability of benefiting from research education;
  • interview with the candidate.

Guidelines for writing a dissertation research plan

The following outline may be used as a guide. You should address each of the areas that are relevant for your research.

Title of the project and abstract

The title should capture what is essential of the research project in just a few words.
The abstract should specify what is your research question and how do you plan to approach it? How does your research topic contribute to the field? Are there any effects and impacts beyond academia? Why does it matter, what is its social, cultural, economic, environmental or other kind of importance?
The abstract should not be longer than one page.

The research topic

Introduce your main research question. What is your aim and hypothesis? What are the sub-questions?
Add background information about your topic and previous research about related subjects. You can also share your previous work in the area.

Methodology/Theoretical framework

Describe the methodology, explain why you chose it and how will you use it. 
If your research involves the collection and analysis of research assets (e.g. photos, audiovisual recordings, texts) or data, explain how you will collect, manage, and preserve them (e.g., interviews, ethics application, and questionnaires). Discuss the tools employed for their interpretation.
We do not expect you to master topics related e.g. to open access or to the legal and ethical issues related to data management (e.g. data protection, copyright issues) when you apply. It is enough that you have given the topic thought and recognised the preliminary data management questions that might arise related to your research data.
If you plan to carry out artistic work as part of your doctoral research then present a plan for the artistic component. Explain the scope of the work, the practicalities of its production, when and where you plan to have your exhibition, screening, etc., how many will there be and what is their role in your research.

Schedule and funding of the doctoral studies and dissertation

Present a schedule for the doctoral studies that includes the required studies (60 ECTS), time needed for writing dissertation and possibly for the production of the artistic element(s).
Full time studies take approximately 4 years, plan your schedule accordingly. Be realistic.
Suitable time frame is to present the plan by academic terms (autumn and spring).
It is not necessary to list all the studies in course level, often credits are enough. E.g. autumn 2019, studies in the research field, 20 ECTS.

Funding: The way you plan to fund your studies affects their length. Present a detailed plan for funding. Especially in the case of productions (artistic components of your doctoral project), present your budget.


Describe your expected results and their significance. You may also present possible practical applications of research results. Do you have a plan for publications and other dissemination of research results?


List of the most important research literature. Only sources used in the plan should be listed.

PhD students



The research work focuses on studying the effectiveness of creative solutions of advertising in the aim of achieving communication goals. How does creativity in advertising differ from general creativity? When creativity in advertising is needed? The primary focus is on contemporary scholarly literature, trying to find coincidences and differences in the views of academics and practitioners. Overview of scientific literature is based on the most recognized scientific journals in the field of advertising, and practitioners' view comes from Estonia's long-standing advertisers and professionals from creative and media agencies. The next step focuses on measurement of creative solutions. How to measure and what is the difference between consumer’s unconscious and conscious attention when exposed to advertising? Which methods provide more accurate data? Discrepancies between well-known and new creative solutions. The influence of communication between advertising campaign agents: advertising agency, media agency, and an advertiser, in preparing creative solution. Challenges of creative solution in a fragmented media environment.


I have worked in the field of advertising since 2000 and researched the impact of advertising since 2011. I have most researched the effectiveness of outdoor advertising, which in recent years has been supplemented by research on other media. In advertising research, I am most interested in the aspect of consumer’s acceptance.

Katrin Horma's profile in the Estonian Research Information System

Why BFM?

BFM is an institute that combines various fields of media research and is a unique institution in Estonia with such comprehensive coverage. Experiences and knowledge are shared by high-level experts from different countries, and the training seeks to stay focused on the most up-to-date trends in media research. Now studying for second year here, I have to admit that it has proven to be more interesting, diverse and broader than expected.



The research aims to find out, how to provide an audiovisual work with a meta-level (diegetic musical soundtrack) that is capable of overthrowing the mainstream narrative and transmuting into a new reality? How many levels of "truth" does the viewer need (or tolerate) to form their own assessment and begin to respect the phenomenon as absolute? Can the balance between emotion and reason be deliberately tilted even when the viewer knows that he is being manipulated?


Mart Sander has a long and distinguished career as a musician and is nowadays active as an author and filmmaker.

Why BFM?

Choosing this course, I was intrigued by the possibility to combine my two degrees – in music and in directing – and research something that can only be done by someone who has an in-depth knowledge of both disciplines.


I find Cinematic Virtual Reality (CVR) to be a fascinating new way to tell stories combining audiovisual storytelling and virtual reality, where much stronger emotions can be triggered and situations perceived more real as the user is sharing the same space with characters in a virtual environment.

As the project seeks for knowledge in a rather new field, I believe that it could be beneficial academically and to practitioners. Understanding how users are immersed in Cinematic Virtual Reality stories and what cinematographic techniques can be used will allow CVR developers to work more efficiently and effectively.


I have acquired both a bachelor's and a master's degree in the field of production and directing at the Tallinn University's Baltic Film and Media School. I started working in the television sphere few years before I started my undergraduate studies at TLU’s Baltic Film and Media School and I’m somewhat active in it till now.

I've directed and/or produced several TV shows, series, commercials and music videos, produced the Estonian National Selection for the Eurovision Song Contest entry – Eesti Laul – and worked as the Head of Social Media at Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).

Why BFM?

Choosing Tallinn University as the place for doctoral research is quite logical for me as this is my – so to say – home university and it offers internationally recognized world class education in the field of audiovisual arts and media. More importantly, Audiovisual Arts and Media Studies curriculum, its high-level professors and lecturers with an international background, its facilities and technical capability offers the opportunity to conduct my research in technologically complex and artistically demanding topic. 

Ermo Säks's profile in the Estonian Research Information System


Against the backdrop of today’s diverse and digitized film consumption patterns that modify relations between audiences and content creators/providers, the research project explores the dynamics between players across the film value chain by approaching the field of film production, distribution, exhibition and consumption with a multidimensional focus on film audiences throughout the production and consumption path. As the project delves into the practices that different players take in relation to others on micro, macro and meso levels, it also aims to bridge notions (e.g. institutionalized audiences, imagined affordances, imagined audiences) from audience research, media studies and media management research with an ambition to do theory innovation as well. The project strives to provide insights into both film industry players’ and film audiences’ practice shaping activities and relations, and thereby contributes to the field from the highly vital audience focus.


Sten is a junior research fellow in MEDIT and a doctoral student in BFM. He holds an MA degree (social and cultural anthropology) from the University of Helsinki and has working experience in the field of education and in streamlining third sector’s digital services. When Sten is not researching the Estonian film and media sphere, he writes weekly film reviews for the biggest media outlets in Estonia.

Why BFM?

The main reasons were BFM's unique position in the Estonian audiovisual field that covers research and creative work, BFM’s and MEDIT's competence in media research (innovation, evolution and culture) and my far-reaching desire to contribute to the Estonia’s film sector.

Sten Kauber's profile in the Estonian Research Information System


This research explores agency within the nodes of interactivity and how traditional dramaturgy and the poetics of cinema react when applied to an interactive film.  Through a practice-lead and dramaturgical approach, this thesis will raise questions about character construction, conflict, and structure as well as address questions about the epistemic violence of traditional narratives and how they differ when interactive elements are applied. 


Michael began working for BFM in 2015. He lectures on various forms of fiction writing, from Creative Writing to Screenwriting. Before moving to Estonia he worked for the British film and television industry for ten years, holding various positions, mostly in post-production, film restoration, and editing. First, he worked for Yorkshire Television, later at ITV when the companies merged. At the same time, Michael worked for a variety of independent film production companies, writing and directing award-winning short films and a feature film which was praised by Film Int. He holds a BA in Dramaturgy from Leeds University and an MA in Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies from Tallinn University.

Why BFM?

First and foremost is the opportunity this curriculum offers for practice-based research; it’s no exaggeration to say that the resultant fusion of academic and creative works brings together two otherwise more disparate strands of my professional life and allows me to further explore both and deepen my understanding of both without neglecting one or the other. Secondly, the reputation of BFM for excellence and the opportunity to develop my PhD in such a young programme with a dynamic set of professors and experts to support me.

Michael Keerdo-Dawson's profile in the Estonian Research Information System


Scientists are increasingly expected to use media for communicating their work and scientific knowledge in general to the public. At the same time, mediatization, an emerging theory in media studies, analyses how media influences and transforms societal institutions who use media for gaining public attention. My thesis combines these approaches and investigates how communicating science via media changes the attitudes, skills and behaviour of scientists. Based on interviews with the team who build ESTCube-1, the first Estonian satellite and other scientists visible in Estonia public, the thesis shows how scientists learn media skills and what are the effects on science and media when they apply them in science communication.


Arko Olesk has worked as a science journalist and has a science communication MA from London Imperial College. He teaches science communication at Tallinn University and participates in the Horizon 2020 science communication project QUEST

Arko Olesk's profile in the Estonian Research Information System


The project aims to analyse data practices employed by local media organisations in comparison to how global new media companies handle data for segmentation, targeting in relation to advertisements and data employment for content suggestions. A comparative perspective aims to uncover differences between local and global players highlighting the logic of both to assess what accounts as strong and weak points. In addition to exploring exact business model related data practices, an assessment of the wider playing field- privacy, competitiveness and consumer protection issues- is an important complementing aspect. After uncovering the underlying data handling practices by local media organisations and the environment they operate in, ways forward (policy suggestions) can be addressed in the framework of cross-innovation.


I have a BA degree in Government & Politics from University of Tartu and an MSc degree in European Governance from University of Bristol. At the moment I’m finishing my MA degree in New Media & Digital Culture at University of Amsterdam. I have worked as a researcher at Unitas Foundation and Transparency International Estonia and as an adviser for digital and energy efficiency topics at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

Why BFM?

The doctoral programme for media studies at Tallinn University offers a dynamic opportunity to explore different facets of new media characteristics and developments. It allows a thorough and critical look at the current mediatised society. 

Hanna Jemmer's profile in the Estonian Research Information System



My research focuses on the relationship between memory and film, on the places where they intersect and how the narrative tools of one can define and/or affect the other. The idea for the research emerged from a film idea and they have been evolving together, I find this a wonderful opportunity to continue the process. I plan to experiment with formal aspects of documentary filmmaking and through these experiments investigate some aspects of narrativity, memory, representation, and film as a medium.


Carlos E. Lesmes is a Colombian film director currently living and working in Estonia. Graduated as a Filmmaker from Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 2010, and from the MA in Baltic Film and Arts School in 2014, Carlos has been an active member of the Estonian film community, being part of different feature films and developing his own film projects. His debut feature documentary film A Loss of Something Ever Felt was released in 2021 and has recognized in several film festival inside and outside of Estonia.

Why BFM?

Since I graduated my MA, I have been involved with various BFM projects and, in a way, it is my first foster home in Estonia. When I understood that the research practice PhD would offer me the possibility to further my practice and also think about it, it was a simple choice. Having access to the network, the people and the facilities the BFM offers is a great opportunity to improve my practice and also get to know other artists. 


I am conducting artistic research on the phenomenon of narrative stance or Cinematic Point of View in audiovisual fiction. Point of view refers to whose reality the viewer most identifies with at any given time and is one of the biggest contributions the director makes to a film. How to control and direct point of view – the level of involvement the viewer has with the characters on screen – via film language is one of the main questions for a director. The form and content of my practice-based exploratory research is focusing around practical creation of POV in fiction film directing.


Tanel Toom is an Oscar-nominated film director and screenwriter. He studied filmmaking at Tallinn University, graduating with a BA in 2005 after which continued his MA studies at the National Film and Television School, UK. His films have been screened around the world in numerous film festivals (including Venice Film Festival, Busan, Warsaw, San Sebastian, Black Nights Film Festival etc) and won several awards. His short film The Confession won the Student Academy Award and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. His first feature film Truth and Justice premiered in 2019, breaking all the box office records in Estonia and quickly became the most watched film in the country and made it into the shortlist in Best International Film category at the 2020 Academy Awards. His second feature, English language international project Last Sentinel, starring Kate Bosworth and Lucien Laviscount, premiered in March 2023.

Why BFM?

BFM has artistic research in the field of film and a possibility to have a filmmaker as a supervisor. Those two opportunities are the reason why I joined the Audiovisual Arts and Media Studies programme.


The relationship between space of representation and represented space occupy a central position in this research that explores how narrative cinema meets public space, through the creation of site-specific films, questioning how this relocation / remediation of cinema confronts the relationship with the audience from the very conception and expands the possibilities of creation from new storytelling strategies that include the space, its inhabitants and its dynamics. In the same way, it questions the auratic aspect of a cinema anchored to a territory. The project uses nostalgia as a spatial operation to build deep links within the space and the human.


Colombian director and cinematographer with international experience in feature films, shorts, television and documentaries. He has collaborated with projects in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, working with many production companies and different channels including ARTE and Radio Télévision Suisse. He holds a BA in film and Television from National University of Colombia, a Master in Cinematography (Cum Laude) from Erasmus Mundus joint master Viewfinder. He has collaborated for several years with indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in Colombia, an experience that has contributed significantly to broaden his understanding of cinema and has directed his artistic searches to new horizons.

Why BFM?

During my Master's studies at BFM I had the opportunity to collaborate in one of the research projects as a cinematographer, which allowed me to understand what the PhD programme was all about and to see artistic research up close. I simply loved it. This university has been for me the place where I have finally reconciled several of my interests and quests, it has also offered me the means for exploration, as well as an academic and artistic community to rely on. It is honestly a great privilege to belong to it and I must say that I have been warmly welcomed.


I focus on the concept of chance within film editing. Film editing is in film theory and education mostly considered as a form of construction - editors are constructing the narrative, the story, the rhythm, the emotion. In my filmmaking practice which includes both editing and directing experience, I have noticed that a counterforce to the construction is an ever-present element in my work. Inspired by Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, I've over the years wondered and experimented on what could be Punctum in film both within my filmmaking practice as well as teaching practice. This research looks at the topic through history, practice and pedagogy.


Liis Nimik (1979) is a documentary filmmaker, fiction editor and lecturer. She has edited 4 feature films and worked together with director Veiko Õunpuu on two features – Free Range (2013) and Roukli (2015). The recent documentary films she produced – Lembri Uudu (2017), The Weight of All the Beauty (2019) and A Loss of Something Ever Felt (2020) have all been international festival successes, having being shown and awarded in festivals like DocLeipzig, Sarajevo, HotDocs, Melbourne IFF, Jihlava, Bogota, Habana and Black Nights. Sundial is her debut feature documentary as a director and premieres in Visions du Reel and Hotdocs in 2023. Liis believes chance, curiosity and humor are the three most important components of life and keeps researching film through this perspective.

Why BFM?

I am an alumni from the Film Arts programme in BFM, where I graduated as an editor and I also got my MA in Documentary Directing from BFM. I’ve been teaching editing in BFM for more than 7 years now and within that process I’ve gathered a lot of interesting insight from which the academic world could benefit from. So when the Artistic Research branch was opened in BFM, I felt it was time to take a step forward and look into my tacit knowledge processes with scientific tools. 


The thesis originates from several current developments related to audiovisual media and television viewing. Over the past decade, most of the public broadcasters have introduced their own video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. While the viewership on these platforms is on the rise, traditional linear TV viewership is declining. Due to insufficient exploration of certain aspects regarding how content exposure (distribution and presentation) on VOD platforms translates into viewership, the overall shift in televisual media consumption poses challenges for public service media organizations in balancing their content offer in terms of diversity i.e. fulfilling their public objectives.
My PhD research focuses on the question of how and to what extent VOD platforms of public service media contribute to the creation of public value. The research aims to contextualize VOD services and their affordances within the ecosystem of public service media, conceptualize the public value of VOD services, and develop novel multidimensional methods to measure it.


Raul Lobanov has a background in sociology, media analytics and development of digital media platforms. He has been working for all of the major media houses in Estonia analyzing digital media data and turning the knowledge into developments and innovations of digital media platforms. During the recent years, he has held various positions at Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), focusing on development of VOD services and media analytics. His research interests include television, streaming services, video-on-demand platforms, multidimensional audience studies and media analytics.

Why BFM?

Having graduated from BFM's Contemporary Media MA programme, I was well-acquainted with the school, its academic staff, fundamental principles, quality of work, and the opportunities the school provides. I would foremost emphasize the supportive and international study environment, and several innovative research approaches developing at BFM. The PhD programme also offers wide-ranging opportunities that empower students to shape their own individual and independent study paths. Given that my PhD studies primarily focus on data and audiovisual media, my decision to pursue further education at BFM was supported by the existence of Estonian Research Council group grant "Public Value of Open Cultural Data" and the presence of the CUDAN (Cultural Data Analytics) Open Lab at Tallinn University.

Study Support Facilities

BFM as a whole is focused on preparing students for work in a contemporary dynamically developing media system. Proof of this are the programmes for Crossmedia and those focused on developing video games and the the lately opened Contemporary Media programme next to the more traditional film and television programmes. All these programmes give input to the doctoral programme thus the programme focuses greatly on more contemporary media and audiovisual art forms, on questions on the renewal of media, the development of media markets and the reactions of media politics.

The programme is organically linked to Tallinn University’s Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (MEDIT) which focuses on the renewal processes of contemporary media and digital culture. Both MEDIT and the doctoral programme are an expression of the development of TU’s focus filed „digital and media culture“.

Contact Us!

Kerli Aguraiuja

Study Counsellor and Specialist

ADdressNarva mnt 27, 10120 Tallinn

Telefon(+372) 6199 926



For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist.

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