Heino Pars

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Heino Pars

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Mustla, Viljandi County, Estonia


Heino Pars was born in Mustla, Viljandi County in Estonia on October 13, 1925.

Pars along with his colleague Elbert Tuganov are cited as the fathers of puppet animation in Estonia. Pars’ most famous film is Nael/Nail (1972), an experimental film that brings inanimate objects to life.

Pars died at the age of 89 on October 8, 2014.

Family and early life

Pars was raised with an older brother and sister. He had a twin brother, but he died when he was an infant. He grew up with an interest in theatre and acted in several school plays.

Near the beginning of World War II, Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. However, a year later, Estonia was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany as a result of Operation Barbarossa. In turn, a teenage Pars was recruited into the German army. He was taken as a German prisoner of war by the Red Army in the later years of the War and survived on making nails with barbed wire.

When Estonia was under the control of the Soviet Union once more, Pars was released from the POW camp and went on to study veterinary medicine at the University of Tartu. While attending university, he was involved in an acting group, which acted as an avenue of self-expression for Pars. He left the university, feeling that becoming a veterinarian was not for him as it did not allow for creativity to thrive. He worked as a veterinarian in Järva-Jaani for three years before leaving to find more creative avenues of work.

Career outline

He began his career at Nukufilm when he was hired as an assistant cameraman by Elbert Tuganov in 1961 and then worked his way up to be a cinematographer. Although formally hired four years later, Pars animated the boat rowing sequence in Peetrikese unenägu/Little Peeter’s Dream (1957).

His directorial debut under Nukufilm was Väike motoroller/A Little Motor Scooter in 1962. After his debut, he went on to make the first animation series in Estonia called the Kõps. The eponymous Kõps was a cameraman who explored and captured otherworldly scenes of nature through his camera. As a lover of nature, the whimsy of the outdoors was a prominent theme in several of his films.

His last prominent film was Elujõgi/River of Life in 1986, which captures the natural beauty of the river in stunning, immaculate detail. Pars retired from animation in 1990.

Honors and awards

Order of the White Star in 2001


Kings of the Time. Directed by Mait Laas, Exitfilm and Nukufilm, 2008.

Robinson, Chris. “Having Soul: 45 Years of Nukufilm Studio.” Animation World Network, 2003.

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