Born in 1956 in Pärnu, Estonia, Rao Heidmets studied at the Tallinn Technical University. In 1982 he started working as an animator at the then largest Estonian film company, Tallinnfilm. One year later, he did his first directing work with the animated short film Dove Aunt, for which he received several prizes, including one for Best Debut Film at the 3rd Estonian Festival of Animated Film in 1984. Even in his early films, he preferred to work with puppet animation and has developed an enormous talent in this area through the years. Theatre Papa Carlo,an animated film about the collapse of a totalitarian system, which he made together with Priit Pärn using life-size puppets, was nominated for the Palm D’Or in Cannes. In the same year, his cultural-critical film Noblesse Oblige was nominated for a Nika, the most important film prize in Russia. In 2004 at the International Film Festival in Stuttgart, he received the Audience Award for the stop-motion short film Instinct. Since 1991, he has managed his own studio, the Rao Heidmets Filmstudio, and has been the chairman of the Estonian Animation’s Union since the mid-90s. He continues to be a regular jury member at international film festivals, leads workshops in the US, Mexico, and Armenia, among other places, and participates in diverse artistic exhibitions.