Creative Competition „Estonian sites of memory and the face of evil“

Estonian Institute of Historical Memory , 12. April 2022

The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory invites photography and film enthusiasts to capture places that serve as a reminder of the Soviet Union’s violent rule in Estonia, even if such sites have changed or deteriorated nowadays. The prize fund of the competition includes altogether 3000€ worth of gift certificates of one Estonia’s largest electronics shops.

Remembering the Soviet regime’s criminal legacy maintains an understanding of the value of freedom and humanity. Unfortunately, this is no longer a mere memory. The aggression against Ukraine and the mass crimes committed today represent a shadow of violent Soviet history, which has once again reached Europe.

The patron of the competition is the Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas. Submissions are accepted until 27 May 2022 and the best authors are invited to a reception in Stenbock House in Toompea. Further information about the participation and the prizes can be found below. Last year’s entries of the “Estonian Beacons of Memory” competition can be found here.


Competition assignment and idea

Participants are invited to photograph or film places, where:

  • your family member(s) and other Estonian people were repressed (a home where people lived and from where they were taken; a prison where people were detained, etc);
  • the damage caused by the Soviet regime to Estonian town and villages, culture, environment, economy (destroyed historical sites, including cemeteries, pollution, deformation of the landscape, bad living environment, etc) is still visible or evident;
  • locations of key administrative offices Soviet occupying regime (KGB, military bases, etc);
  • Soviet regime attempted to demonstrate its superiority (Stalinist buildings, symbolic sites etc).

Attempt to discover significant details and views that tell the story of these sites and can be associated with the topic.

People and re-enactments can be photographed or filmed within the framework of the competition. Sound, speech and storytelling are allowed in the video.

14 June 2022 marks the passing of 81 years from the tragic June deportation, during which Soviet authorities forcibly deported more than 10,000 Estonians to Siberia, of whom only a few returned. This day is a national day of mourning, when we commemorate all victims of deportation and the totalitarian regime. We must keep in mind that while we enjoy the benefits of living in a free society today, it can rapidly deteriorate when totalitarian ideas take power and historical memory fails. Sites of memory prevent us from forgetting the brutality of totalitarian ideologies and the regimes that subscribe to the ideas of such regimes. Historical places also call us to maintain our humanity.


Competition prizes

The prizes consist of more than 3000€ worth of gift cards for a major electronics retailer in Estonia. The jury may divide the prize between no more than top five participants.

In addition, it is possible to win a 1,5h tour of Patarei Prison exhibition area “Communism is Prison” for a group of up to 10 people (altogether, three tours will be given away), tickets to explore the exhibition area on your own, as well as the books by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory will also organise an e-exhibition featuring the best photos and videos.

Each participant may enter one video (up to 3 minutes) and/or up to 6 photos to the competition. The deadline of the competition works is 27 May 2022.


Technical requirements

Each participant is expected to enter up to 6 photos and/or a video to the competition.


Framing, digitally stitched panoramas, high dynamic range (HDR), image sharpening, and full or partial correction and focusing of brightness, contrast, and colour are allowed. Adding of removing objects (including the author’s name) is not permitted, with the exception of sensor dust. When editing photos, best practices as well as truthful and natural presentation must be kept in mind.

The photos must have a resolution of at least 3,000 pixels on the long side.


The video’s full length may be up to 180 seconds. Music and speech are allowed. The use of subtitles or captions is not permitted, with the exception of the title.

The video is required to have at least HD quality.


All entries must be submitted electronically via WeTransfer.

 Please follow this link for uploading:

1.      Click “Add your files”

2.      Select your entry and a text document (further information below)

3.      Enter your email address

4.      Add your first and last name to the message field

5.      Click “Transfer” and wait for all your files to finish uploading

6.      Enter the confirmation code you receive via email after sending the files on WeTransfer.

If the transfer was a success, you will receive a confirmation of your email from WeTransfer.

All file names of the entries must be in the following format: NAME_SURNAME_NUMBER (the first and last name of the author; each file must be given a number from 1 to 6).

The deadline for submissions is 27 May 2021 23:59 (GMT+2) at the latest.

In addition to the competition entries, each participant must submit a Word document via WeTransfer with the following information: the first and last name of the author, phone number, email, profession/organisation/field of work and an explanation about the photos/video of up to 500 characters (with spaces); adding the title of the entry is optional. The text document must have the author’s first and last name in the file name (e.g. John Smith). Please also add the Word file if you send us a link with your entries.


The Jury

Riho Västrik (director, producer, Associate Professor of Documentary Film at Tallinn University)

Marko Poolamets (photographer and operator of the CollectOurStory oral history portal)

Martin Andreller (Board Member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Project Manager of Patarei Museum)

Sergei Metlev (Board Member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory)


Evaluation criteria

  • The entry is in accordance with the competition idea;
  • The level of artistic expression and execution;
  • Well thought-out message and symbolism;
  • Compliance with technical requirements.


Additional conditions

  • By submitting the entry, the participant allows their work to be used by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory for free. The Institute may also edit the entries in connection with the competition, provided that the authorship is visibly mentioned.  
  • The award will be issued on the basis of an agreement that will be signed with the authors of the awarded entries. All rights to the submitted work will be transferred to the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.
  • One competition entry may have several authors, in which case the award of said entry will be divided between the authors.
  • Entries that disregard the technical requirements stated above will be automatically disqualified.
  • In case of copyright infringement, all works submitted by the author will be disqualified.
  • Only the jury's interpretation of competition requirements applies.

If you have any questions, please contact the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory:


Useful links:

Estonian Institute of Historical Memory:  

Patarei Prison Museum:

Oral history portal Collect Our Story:

Electronic memorial and home page of Estonia’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism:

International portal on the crimes of communism: