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história estc
história estc

History and Mission

History and Mission

Lisbon's Theatre and Film School is a reference among its national and foreign peers, being a member of the major interschools associations of its artistic areas and integrated into the most prominent international associations of its sectors.

It's numerous the relevant Portuguese personalities, from theatrical and audiovisual areas, are ESTC graduates.


National Conservatory Building | 1950/1951

ESTC (Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema) was set up in 1983. The object of this legal action was to reconvert the National Conservatory, a centenary and prestigious establishment for artistic education, and setting up several new establishments offering degrees in the same artistic areas as the Conservatory, such as ESTC, specifically directed at drama and film studies.

Drama Education had a long tradition in the Conservatório: it went back to the date of its creation in 1836, by Decree of Queen Maria II, in the scope of a Plan for the foundation and organization of a National Theatre proposed by João Baptista de Almeida Garrett, then still called Conservatório Geral de Arte Dramática and formed by three Schools: Escola Dramática ou de Declamação for drama education, Escola de Música for music education (integrating the former Conservatório de Música, set up in Casa Pia by Decree of 1835) and Escola de Dança, Mímica e Ginástica Especial for dance, mime arts and especial gymnastics education.

By later reforms, the name of the Conservatório was changed, first to Conservatório Real de Lisboa and then, already under the new republican regime, to Conservatório Nacional, the name of the Escola Dramática ou de Declamação being altered to Escola de Arte de Representar.

On July 4, 1914, the Escola de Arte de Representar (School in the Art of Acting) was for the first time granted management autonomy.

By Decree dated May 19, 1914, the scenography and stage design degree was set up in this school (to be taught “in the big paintings room of the Teatro Nacional Almeida Garrett which, functioning under the Escola de Arte de Representar”, would exclusively “be at the service and practices of the corresponding teacher”); by Decree of August 6, 1914, the costume designer degree was also set up.

All this traditional concern for dramatic education was kept and developed under later reforms and is still very present today in the degrees offered at ESTC's Theatre department.

As for Film Studies, the corresponding degree was only set up in Conservatório Nacional after 1971, on a pedagogic experimental basis, in the scope of the reform process undertaken by Madalena Perdigão, in the time of Minister Veiga Simão.

By that time, the Escola Piloto para a Formação de Profissionais de Cinema (Pilot School for Film Professionals Training) was created and its first degree initiated in 1973. From the beginning, a deep concern of this school has been to complement the technical knowledge necessary to cinema-linked professions with a more artistic component.

The degree being offered today by the Cinema Department has gone through an evolution since 1973 but its philosophy is still the same as that of the first degree which, it should be stressed, was very much of a pioneer in Portuguese public higher education.

By governmental Decree, ESTC - that had so far been under the Direcção-Geral do Ensino Superior and, since 1983, managed by an Organisation Committee formed by Professors Jorge Synek Listopad, President, and José Bogalheiro, member – was integrated in the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, a public polytechnic higher education establishment created by Decree-Law in 1979.

When totally new premises were built in Amadora, within the greater Lisbon area, for Lisbon's Theatre and Film School (the first building ever constructed in Portugal specifically to host a public artistic higher education establishment), it was finally possible to move from the old Convento dos Caetanos, where Almeida Garrett´s General Art Conservatory had provisionally functioned, to modern premises designed to have adequate teaching rooms, studios, performing areas, library and cafeteria, all of which offer the best working conditions for its students.

The bi-departmental structure of the School, a historical heritage from the previous schools of Drama and of Cinema of the National Conservatory, led to a certain pedagogic-scientific autonomy granted to the two Departments, according to its statutes.

This international cooperation concern also led to efforts made to strengthen the School´s active participation in teacher and student intercourse programmes, within specific programmes, like the Erasmus+, as well as bilateral agreements with Universities of Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico).


The mission of the National Theatre and Film School, enshrined in its statutes, consists in pursuing the following goals:

1. Training of highly qualified professionals;

2. Realization of research and research activities;

3. Experimentation and artistic production;

4. Realization or participation in development projects;

5. Provision of services to the community.