Documentary Film

Documentary Film

Documentary MA programme is focused on the auteur concept of the creative documentary. During the two year studies the students are guided to find their author’s voice and to develop their factual storytelling skills. Each student creates a short documentary each semester.

Study level Master's Studies

Duration of study 2 years

Language English

Study form Regular studies

Cost per semester € 2000

At Tallinn University it is possible to do that in a multicultural environment together with lecturers and coursemates from different countries. On a daily basis our students are able to use a studio complex with modern TV, film and editing equipment.

Next admissions: 2022!

Who are we looking for?

We are searching for intellectually active, creative, socially and culturally interested people who have previous study or work experience in the fields of film, media or art. 

The aim of the curriculum is to develop the krowledge, skills and first and foremost creative capabilities in the filed of creative documentary. The language of study is English, thus a good command of English is needed.

Why study with us?

First and foremost to develop your professional skills, knowledge base and experience in the field of documentary filmmaking and also to develop your creative capabilities.

The Documentary Film MA curriculum has a good balance of general speciality courses and practical work, we place great emphasis on creatively finding yourself. 

The subject specific English acquired here helps you find international jobs. 


Course Outline

The programme has a thematic overlap with the School of Humanities' Visual Anthropology specialization, which gives the students knowledge about cultural anthropology and the methodology of field work.

During the studies the students will produce three short films and a master's production.

See the study programme

Academic Staff

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 program 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.


Kersti Uibo is a documentary film-maker who has been teaching documentary directing in Tallinn University since 1994. 

Kersti Uibo embarked on her voyage of discovery as a film-maker, aged 35, at the National Film and Television School, Great Britain, having already graduated in English and German from Moscow and Modern History from London Universities. Her mentors in documentary directing at the NFTS were the pioneer of observational cinema, Herb Di Gioia, and “Oscar”- winning editor, Tom Priestley.  Kersti Uibo's student films "Diva in the Bath" and "Evald's Acre" were shown at numerous major documentary film festivals and screened at the Museum of Modern Art, NY under the section "New Directors". 

For Kersti Uibo, the essence of documentary film is to give the viewer the sense of "being there". "If you wait long enough, people get used to the camera and are able to be themselves". Kersti Uibo makes another film only when a subject challenges her own perception of the world and she is able to create a new visual form. Teaching documentary film is another passion of Kersti. With her characteristic hands-on approach to film-making, she has led courses in documentary directing and given work-shops in experimental film at UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art, Brooklyn, NY, at the Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London, at the Internationale Filmschule in Cologne, at the Creative Documentary Course SACAC in Delhi and at numerous film festivals round the world.

For Kersti’s films and interviews visit the website.


Jarmo Valkola is a Doctor of Philosophy. His dissertation is from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, Department of Art Education: Perceiving the Visual in Cinema; Semantic Approaches to Film Form and Meaning. He is Docent at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland (Motion Pictures, TV and Production Design), Docent Professor at the University of Lapland, Finland (Media Science), and Docent at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland (Art Education). He is Associate Professor of Film History and Theory at Baltic Film, Media, Art and Communication Institute of Tallinn University, Estonia. Previously he has worked as Professor of Art Education at the University of Jyväskylä, as Innove Professor at Tallinn University, as Associate Professor of Media Education at the University of Lapland, and as Visiting Professor at Sorbonne-Nouvelle University in Paris. He has written 17 books and 50 scientific articles on Cinema, Art, and Aesthetics. He has books and articles in various languages: Finnish, English, French, Italian, Turkish, Greek, Estonian and Hungarian. 

See his latest book Pictorialism in Cinema.

Read the interview with Jarmo Valkola conducted by Documentary Film students at the BFM Film and Media Blog.

Admission Requirements

 Extended deadline! Non-EU/EEA applicants (except applicants from the United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, whose deadline is 1st of July) deadline for submitting your application: 15 April 2021.

General requirements

Entrance exams

  • A relevant portfolio is required. Creative portfolio presented on a digital platform (Vimeo, personal website, etc.) – the best examples of candidate’s creative works including photographs, short films, videos, essays, scripts, poems, etc.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letter of motivation (in English)
  • Interview with the admission committee and creative assignment (a visual story to assess candidate’s creative potential). Creative assignment that assess candidate’s creative potential will be given during candidates 1st interview time. Candidate will have 2-3 days to complete the visual story in the key of documentary film.
  • Additional materials (portfolio, CV, letter of motivation) to be sent to
  • For the purposes of identity verification at the admission procedure the Admission Committee has the right to take a screenshot during the oral part of the admission exam carried out via video bridge.
  • See the admission and application requirements for Master's level applicants.

The Documentary Film admission competition is made of four different elements:

  • CV, Letter of Motivation 10%
  • Portfolio 30%
  • Creative Assignment 35%
  • Interview 25%


Tallinn University has received funding from the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer one scholarship for applicants applying for the Documentary Film MA programme. 


1 full scholarship to students from the following countries:

  • Georgia  
  • Ukraine   
  • Moldova   
  • Belarus   

Students will be granted a full scholarship to cover their tuition fee for two years and a contribution to cover their living costs in Estonia 300 € per month.

Post-Graduate Destinations

Further Studies

Master level studies give you the necessary knowledge and skills to find work as a professional documentary filmmaker. Those who wish can continue their studies in PhD studies.

Why BFM?

  • Tallinn University Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School (BFM) focuses on professional hands-on training designed for international careers. BFM has over 1100 students, about 230 of them are foreigners from more than 50 countries worldwide.
  • Graduates leave with an extensive portfolio of films and audio-visual content for further career, plus an internationally validated university degree.
  • BFM believes in hands-on approach.
  • Lectures at BFM are given by well-known filmmakers and media professionals in Estonia such as Jarmo Valkola, Kersti Uibo, Riho Västrik.
  • The university provides students with a state of the art facilities and equipment. BFM building houses Estonia’s first 4K cinema hall, film and sound studios, and editing rooms.
  • BFM has over 30 partner universities in Europe and China, which offers a truly exciting mix of cultures that creates an invaluable professional network for your later career.
  • Scholarships available

Contact us

study councellor and specialist:

Bärbel Salumäe

AddressNarva mnt 27, 10120 Tallinn

phone(+372) 619 9928


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


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