Filmipildi märksõnastamisest Eesti filmi andmebaasis. Rahvusfilmograafias / Meta-Description of Films in Estonian Film Database. National Filmography

Hagi Šein 1
  • 1 Tallinn University, Tallinna Ülikool, Estonian Film Database, Eesti Filmi Andmebaas


2012 was the year of film in Estonia, when the 100th anniversary of Estonian film was celebrated. One of the most significant undertakings planned for this occasion was the creation of the Estonian film database (electronic national filmography). Performing this large-scale task was undertaken by the NPO Estonian Film Database, launched in 2007. The main objective of the undertaking was to form a complete Estonian national filmography within ten years (2007-2018) and make it available in a web environment to everyone interested, both in Estonia and abroad. The access to the database was opened in late fall, 2012 (

Together with newsreels, the number of produced items reaches over 12 000. Feature films, documentaries and popular films, anima, television, educational programmes, advertising films and newsreels form a rich collection of the life, history, culture and people of Estonia. Nearly 3 000 filmmakers and most Estonian actors and actresses have participated in creating the Estonian film heritage. Several thousand people, events, places, buildings, offices and institutions in Estonia participate in or are mentioned in the films. In addition, the films are adressing several thousand people shown or talking in films. The electronic database opens the film treasury in a summarised way, employing a variety of possibilities offered by modern electronic databases.

A metadata system and coding instructions were prepared for each film, person and institution in the extensive space of attributes with search options, which combines the interactive features of a film directory and bibliographical, biographical databases. Each film is described as thoroughly as possible. The attributes of films contain data about the subject, genre, authors, cast, production team, locations, producers, copyrights and distributors of films and about the technical parameters of films, as well as the bibliography of films, references to the reviews, articles, books published about films and the makers of films, digitised frames and pictures from films, trailers and promotional clips, scripts, memories of the makers and other interesting details. The subject content of films is indexed in 12 categories and related sub-groups and enables the search of films by plot/subject content, physical items, themes of newsreels and feature films, people, time, events, locations, building sites and institutions. In addition, films are indexed by a film-adapted UDC. As a result, more than 50 000 keywords enable thorough multi-layered content and subject search. All filmmakers are given their personal websites, which provides an overview of their creative careers and filmographies.

The electronic film database is interfaced with other similar databases at the Estonian Public Broadcasting, film archive of the National Archives, National Library and the Baltic Film and Media School of the Tallinn University. The web interface offers the possibility to enter with an ID-card and allows advance into several digital storages, where it is possible to view the films produced and purchase them for streaming. The filmography is interfaced with social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and is aiming the possibility to interlink it with the European Film Gateway in the future, thus offering access to a digitised film treasury through Europeana. The database is aimed at film professionals, teachers, students, researchers and the general public as the target audience.

Among others, the key issues of cultural databases draw on the approaches and solutions for information retrieval and are relying in particular on the principles of conceptual (intellectual) subject indexing of audiovisual artefacts. Inspired by classical works of Panofsky, Shatford, Turner and others regarding image description, analysis and interpretation the article covers some main issues regarding options for a multifunctional film indexing metadata. The text tackles different aspects of the description of moving images for public needs in general and also describes the specific details of the system, developed for deep keywording of Estonian films. The rationale, limits and disputable issues as well as our experience and basic suggestions for professional indexers who are undertaking these kind of tasks are also revealed.

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