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What Happened and What to Expect from the Next Edition of the International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films

The International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films, restored by Medical University – Varna and the Bulgarian Red Cross after almost 25-year interruption, has already become a history with its 15th edition, which was held in Varna from 3rd to 7th November, under the auspices of the Vice President Mrs. Margarita Popova.

Due to the fact that this year's edition of one of the most prestigious festivals in Varna aimed to restore the event after its longstanding interruption, it was not competitive. The task of the jury, including the director Andrei Slabakov and two former rectors - of MU-Varna, Prof. Temelko Temelkov and of Sofia University, Prof. Boyan Biolchev was to select the titles that will be competing at the next Festival out of 126 feature-length and short films

One of these films will be Hospital of the Turkish director Armagan Pekkaya, which besides the International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films has also been presented at the Film Festivals in Cannes and Antalya. The story is set in a Red Crescent Hospital in Darfur, Sudan - one of the most unstable countries in the world, suffering from military dictatorship and a civil war between Arab Muslims and African non-Arabs for many years. It turned out that no one has ever made a film about this extremely turbulent place before, except the Spanish and George Clooney in a short 10-minute video. The film presents the problems of 2 million women and children, deprived of health and educational services, and the Red Crescent Hospital is the only hospital in the area which provides medical treatment to patients for free. Although the filming ran smoothly, according of the director, the film was shot by means of small portable photographic equipment because the use of cameras was prohibited there. Armagan Pekkaya has directed documentaries, fiction, experimental films and videos for social campaigns. He is a winner of about 50 awards. As part of the team of the Department of Public Relations of the Turkish Red Crescent, the director aims to raise donations for the hospital with his film.

Next year we will be able to see the newest project, the first Serbian-Indian production of the Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic – The Land of Gods in the programme of the Festival of Red Cross and Health Films. Winner of numerous awards from the most prestigious international film festivals and a board member of the European Film Academy, Goran Paskaljevic was a special guest - director of this year's Festival, at the invitation of Sofia Film Fest. He was awarded with a Plaque for Cinema Humanism. With his film When Day Breaks (2012), awarded with the Special Jury Prize in Palm Springs and the Grand Prix for the Best Feature Film in Cleveland, finished the opening ceremony of the 15th International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films, held in SHC Kamchiya.

Plenty of actors and directors from our country were guests at the Festival, including Milena Kaneva, Niki Kanchev, Anya Pencheva, Ernestina Shinova, Nikola Anastasov, Ivan Laskin, Martina Vachkova, Mariyan Valev, Mihail Mutafov. The event was also attended by foreign delegations from Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland. Blood donation specialists, medical professionals and filmmakers shared their experience with their Bulgarian counterparts. Guests of the Festival were also Okiyay Beecher and Murat Suluoglu from the Turkish Red Crescent, an organization similar to BRC, which works in close cooperation with the representatives of the Red Cross worldwide. Okiyay Beecher explained that currently in Turkey there were over 3 million Syrian refugees and the Turkish Red Crescent were doing their best to supply them with food. It is an interesting fact that the organization has been fully authorized by the state to organize and control the process of blood donation. Volunteers provide for 2 million blood banks annually

Thanks to the state policy and control in blood donation in Ukraine, the needs for blood are fully met through various forms of remuneration and allowances on pensions. The problem of rare blood group deficiency has been settled as well. Vadim Yavorski and Elena Maligon from the Regional Blood Center in Kharkov, who participated with documentaries about the centre, told us about all that. Evgeni Nemchenko from the Cardiac Surgery Department at the Federal Centre of Cardiovascular Surgery in the city of Penza, Russia participated with the medical films Manhattan - stitch 1 and 2 and CABG Artery, presenting new techniques in cardiac surgery. Nemchenko performs more than 500 open heart surgeries annually. An original methodology for a surgery on a stopped heart and artificial circulation was proposed in his movies, which Varna medical students were able to see at the lecture halls of the University and the University hospital.

Тhe final press conference with the film critic and producer Bozhidar Manov is scheduled for tomorrow, 19.11., at 10:30 am , at the Art Salon of Varna Radio (the small hall). The Art Director of the 15th International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films in Varna is going to make an art overview of the presented titles and tell us what to expect from the next edition of the Festival.​