Humanity shines at Red Cross film fest in Bulgaria

Published: 22 October 2015 13:47 CET

By Andreea Anca, IFRC

For a second consecutive year this fall the topic of Humanity was in the spotlight at the International Festival of the Red Cross and Health Films in Varna, Bulgaria, shining with the glamour of a celebrity in a series of documentaries and feature films screened between 28 September - 3 October.

Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives from around the world walked the red carpet alongside Bulgarian humanitarians, politicians and celebrities.

The IFRC`s  “Stop Indifference. Protect Humanity” campaign enjoyed its own moment of fame when the Vice-President of Bulgaria, Margarita Popova, patron of the event, signed the IFRC petition that calls on the public and governments around the world to share the universal responsibility  of protecting migrants in countries of origin, transit and destination.

Emotional screenings and thoughtful discussions

The opening film “The Salt of the Earth” from director Wim Wenders showcased photos taken by the well-known photojournalist Sebastian Salgado, and highlighted some of the major events in recent history and their humanitarian consequences. The  screening set the stage for an in-depth round table discussion focused on the plight of people on the move in the current context of migration in Europe, as well as the response of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Participants in the  discussion included members of the Bulgarian Red Cross, representatives of other local humanitarian organizations, the Vice-President of Bulgaria, one IFRC representative, the president of the Turkish Red Crescent, diplomats, several other Bulgarian public figures as well as members of the public.   

“The event was a great opportunity to address important humanitarian concerns and put across some essential messages,” said Mette Petersen, Head of Country Cluster, IFRC, who works closely with National Societies in the Balkan region including the Bulgarian Red Cross. “It linked up many stakeholders in the humanitarian field in an interesting context of the films,”  she added.

The film festival featured more than 130 documentaries and films, including some produced by National Societies themselves . The Red Cross and Red Crescent Best Film Award went to “Musteshva”, a silent documentary depicting Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers working in a refugee camp of two million people in Darfur.

In his Skype address to the public, the Turkish director Armagan Pekkaya, said:

“Thank you on behalf of the Turkish Red Crescent for this award. I wanted very much to be with you but I will become a father very soon. I dedicate this award to the little Aylian, thrown by the sea on our sea-shore. As a future father I would like to live in a world where parents never have to grieve for their children. “