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November 26, 2014, Page 12

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Film About Tarpans Wins Best Short Documentary Award at Equus Film Festival in New York Sofia - The film "TARPAN: Repainting An Ancient Picture" Monday won the Best Short Documentary award at the Equus Film Festival in New York, said the New Thracian Gold nongovernmental organization, which in the last several years has been working for the return of the Tarpans in Bulgaria's Eastern Rhodope Mountains. The half-hour documentary was shot in Bulgaria and Poland by American filmmakers Jen Miller and Sophie Dia Pegrum from Horsefly Films. The Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) was a prehistoric wild horse type that ranged from Southern France and Northern Spain east to Central Russia. Tarpans went extinct in wild nature between 1875 and 1890, and the last known wild mare was accidentally killed in Russia during an attempt to capture it. The last captive Tarpan died in 1909 in a Ukrainian zoo. Beginning in the 1930s, several attempts have since been initiated to re-create or bring back a look-a-like Tarpan through selective breeding with domestic races which allegedly retained much Tarpan DNA in their genome. This look-a-like Tarpan is

also known as the Konik Polski. This breed has originated from Polish Tarpan re-creation projects and is one of the horse types which are most suitable for rewilding. In some countries - like the Netherlands - this Polish Konik has been released to nature reserves very successfully,

Photo: New Thracian Gold

with the beginning some thirty years ago. From there these horses have then been brought to Latvia, Bulgaria and other European countries. In September 2011, the first

twelve Tarpans were brought from the Netherlands to Bulgaria by the ARK Foundation and these settled successfully in the Rhodope Mountains. Three years later, a second herd of 35 Tarpans was released in the same area, which on November 13 were announced as a new rewilding area in the Rewilding Europe initiative. This release into the wild is now followed by the release of the movie about the Tarpans. Directors Miller and Pegrum explain that through their work filming horses, they have learned that there are over 600 breeds of horses around the world that are endangered and in danger of going extinct. "Most people have never heard of any of them and our vision is to create a cinematic library to educate the public and shine a light on these breeds and vanishing horse cultures in an effort to conserve and preserve them for future generations," the two filmmakers say. They plan to organize a premiere screening event of "TARPAN: Repainting An Ancient Picture" in New York and Chicago for the Bulgarian consulates, and a Bulgarian premiere in Sofia and local screenings throughout the Rhodope region.

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