Shorts Live-Action Competition

As the world continues to revel in uncertainty, we all need something. To be loved. To be safe. To be happy. The shorts in the International Live Action competition deal with universal truths and people searching to find their place in the world. Through the prism of issues of gender identity, immigration, growing up and growing old – amongst many, many other things - our films give us a snapshot of what it’s like to live in our interesting times. But the films are not just a document of the zeitgeist. They are a chance to see filmmakers use the cinema to its best advantage. Sometimes the films follow the rules of classic filmmaking. Others see filmmakers breaking boundaries (and the fourth wall) and defying convention. As realism, surrealism, comedy and drama meet amongst a myriad of talented filmmakers, the International Live Action competition has a sense of exhilaration and excitement. If you’re still looking for your place in the world, might we suggest beginning your search in the cinema.

Shorts Animation Competition

Animation has the power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, and this year's crop of competition films is no exception. An ordinary dance can become an adventure, and the sea is always the place for reaffirming your desires or getting into new troubles. Nature is a major force, both as a mysterious wonder and a warning; there are bears who simply need to get noticed and landscapes that remind us of the awe of our first natural experience. And there are agents as well: women who still have to talk about rights and men's privileges, religious figures who have to face indecisiveness when it comes to human rights, and students who need to come to terms with historical events best forgotten. Yet in all these, the tone is nothing but realistic: from quirky comedy to grand-Guignol dramas, and from stop-motion to 2D and 3D animation, the animation competition films promise an emotional and rational rollercoaster where nothing is taken for granted and everything constantly moves.

Shorts New Talents Competition: Animation

It couldn’t get more fresh than this! Once again the New Talents programme introduces artists who are truly experimenting with the format of animation and applying their talents into storytelling and visual expression. The long progressive process of film studies tends to lead into creative and unexpected solutions. Animation is a very time consuming technique yet the result is far from slow and boring. Appropriately, time is strongly present in this set of films. Life passes before the eyes like a filmstrip when we travel through the time starting from growing up until getting old and passing forward to the afterlife. These life flavored scenes are seen from various point of views whether it happens by literally jumping into the skin of another persona or observing the world from a stray dog’s perspective. Expressive ways of using lines, colours and visual elements animate life that shares fragile personal experiences and absurdly funny moments with the audience.

Shorts New Talents Competition: Live-action

The word ‘new’ conveys excitement, a sense of discovery and exhilaration. But it can sometimes also indicate a certain sense of naivety, a narrow point of view in which experience must be gained. The films in the New Talents Live Action Competition fall firmly into the latter category whilst displaying a worldview and technical skill that would be the envy of many an established filmmaker. The New Talents competition takes us on a journey that provides ups and downs, thrills and tears. There’s a world of loners, strange characters and people spinning on the edge of the world. There are journeys to take, hills to climb and freefalling to be had. It’s as chaotic as the world is right now whilst offering hope, a chance for change and a message that the world is not as bad as we think. Many of these filmmakers will be the future of cinema. But they are here to speak of the now and – just maybe – bring us closer together.

Shorts National Competition

What this year’s National Competition does is show how diverse Estonian cinema can actually be. There are classic and moving dramas. There are exhilarating genre films. Thought provoking documentaries. Surrealism, dance and comedy all appear. The sheer breadth of ideas and styles shows that filmmakers are still experimenting and pushing the boundaries. And that is just with the live action offerings. Amongst the animation you’ll see that a boy does crazy things to attract his dad's attention, a sober funeral can turn into a very obnoxious event, and a horse brings a lot of memories into the foreground. Non-conventional, experimenting with live-action and film genres, Estonian animation films continue to surprise, affect and enjoy audiences in their own, unique way. The films speak of universal experiences but also of the history of Estonia itself, its past and the folklore that is such an intrinsic part of the fabric of the country. The National Competition is a celebration of filmmaking talent but also what connects Estonia with the rest of world as well as what makes it so unique.

Shorts Kids Animation Competition

We’re back with the freshest batch of animated films for children: come and feast on our carefully selected mix in 3 different screenings. Together we’ll learn how not to fear the shadows and how to overcome differences among us. We’ll set out on an adventure to find snow in the most unexpected places and witness many unlikely friendships. A brave girl will befriend a giant rock, a sceptical snake will find comfort next to an old camel, and a little diver will form a bond with a young astronaut. On the road we’ll encounter hungry mice, a crocodile that lost her brain, even a squirrel that’ll teach us how to write. If you ever wondered what the mole and other underground creatures in grandma’s garden think of us, you might just find out. Many colorful flavors are awaiting on the screen. And this eye candy is good even for your teeth! Films are live-dubbed in Estonian.

Rebels With Their Shorts

The very best works of art push boundaries. They dare us to think about the world in which we live. They challenge our traditional views. They show us that there are more things in heaven and Earth. The shorts in the Rebels With A Cause programme embody these ideals with their bold and provocative techniques. But while these films often revel in the surrealistic, it is perhaps appropriate – in a time in which the real world often seems to be nonsensical – that they deal with many important and pressing issues of the day.. These films will take part in Rebels With A Cause, a competition section of the Black Nights Film Festival dedicated to films that defy the traditional modes of filmmaking. The selection provides a mixture of new filmmakers who will lead the way in cinema over the coming years and more established talents Each short will be eligible for the honorific prize of Best Rebels Short chosen by the Rebels With A Cause jury members.


Humans have always found ways of maintaining the record – from the beginnings of spoken to written word, to documentary films and other mediums. Documentaries have evolved into much more than “non-fiction films which document reality”. The factual information remains the core of the medium, however, we’re also offered glimpses of different viewpoints, giving us a chance to experience the lives of fellow men or even poetically reflect on how we lead our own lives. The selection of live action and animated documentaries in the DOC@Shorts programme bring you the compelling stories of real people and places. We invite you to join these inspiring and gripping journeys of love and loss, the challenges, closures and acceptance, the odd ones out and how our choices can affect the environment and others around us.

Shorts Panorama

A calming sight of the sea? A glimpse of mountaintops, or the wind running through some trees? Or perhaps a look into the deepest corners of someone's heart instead? The best view in any room must be a cinema screen, because film art can give you all that and more. Panorama illuminates the current state of humanity with an agenda to provoke and inspire.

Shorts Alternatives

There are times we have to change the way we move forward. With clever genre shorts, quality dance films and unexpected perspectives to the world around us, the Alternatives is a fun and fearless exploration of how far, low, deep and weird we can go.