Our documentary tells the dramatic story of how the Bulgarian Jews survived the Holocaust. 
The time was 1943. The place: Bulgaria, a supposedly obscure, backward country in Eastern Europe. But it proved to be among the most civilized of nations. Fifty-thousand Jews lived in Bulgaria before and after World War II. Fifty-thousand didn't die even though the Nazis had begun to set in motion the trains that were to take the Bulgarian Jews to their deaths.
The Jews of Bulgaria lived because Bulgarian Christians and Muslims found ways to protect them. Individuals and organizations made a difference. Ordinary people stood up for their Jewish friends and neighbors. The Church, certain Bulgarian Parliament members, lawyers, writers, trade unions, professional guilds, and people from all walks of life helped defeat the Nazis plans for mass deportations.
And this despite the efforts of the Bulgarian government to meet Nazi demands for quotas, i.e., to hand over thousands of Jews for transport to concentration camps.
The Optimists explores how different ethnic and religious groups stood by each other in Bulgaria even during the Holocaust. It is directed by award-winning filmmaker Jacky Comforty, whose family was among those rescued and who was determined to tell this story on film.
Twelve years in the making, The Optimists is a presentation of Comforty Media Concepts and  the Chambon Foundation,  Grants and other types of funding have been provided in part by the Maurice Amado Foundation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Illinois Humanities Council, and the Israeli Ministries of Industry and Trade and Foreign Affairs, and private donors. 
The film is based on 200 hours of filmed and videotaped interviews and 5,000 photographs of Bulgarian Jewry from the turn-of-the last century through World War II. 
Bulgaria's experience offers valuable insight into how we can mobilize to protect human rights and civil rights now. This is a story that must be told. The Optimists tells it.
The Optimists, 81 minutes long, is available for showing in theaters nation wide.

First Prize
Jerusalem International Film Festival
for “Documenting the Jewish Experience

Peace Prize 
Berlin International Film Festival

CINE –Golden Eagle Award 

Best Documentary
Hope and Dreams International Film Festival


,*****

“A rare documentary . . . compact and elegant.”
- Dana Stevens, New York Times

“Uplifting documentary . . . fascinating story.” 
- Ken Fox, TV Guide
“A miraculous sharp movie.” 
- Patrick Z. McGavin, Chicago Tribune

“Individuals triumph over odds in inspiring ‘Optimists’.” 
- Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times

“Potent and gripping. . . . an extraordinary set of circumstances”
- Sarah Madsen Hardy, Boston Globe

“As a human sentiment, it’s touching to behold.”.
- James Crawford, Village Voice

“A rare instance of humanity during the Holocaust.”
- Chad Frade, Time Out New York

“This film celebrates the human spirit.  It offers hope that people can learn to live together in peace.”
- Leora Frucht, The Jerusalem Post

“A must see documentary . . . . memorable”
- Masha Leon, Forward

“A moving tribute to moral courage”
- George Robinson, Jewish Week

“Spellbinding. . . A message of inspiration and hope.”
- Bruce Ingram, Pioneer Press.

“The message is so powerful . . . 
one of the best films of the year.” 
- George O. Singleton, www.ReelMovieCritic.com

“Engaging documentary . . .  moving and heartwarming”
- The NYC Movie Guru

“The Optimists is a wonderful film . . . 
a moving testament to human decency.”
- Annette Insdorf, Author of “Indelible Shadows: 
Film and the Holocaust.”

“A powerful and heartwarming story 
which deserves to be seen and discussed.”
- Rabbi Peter Knobel, Beth Emet, The Free Synagogue.http://www.comforty.com/http://www.chambon.org/http://www.mauriceamadofdn.org/http://www.mauriceamadofdn.org/http://www.wiesenthal.com/http://www.prairie.org/http://www.ReelMovieCritic.comshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5shapeimage_3_link_6
Jacky Comforty's paternal grandfather and his family just before they were to be deported to concentration camps: Rachelle, Mimi, Aaron, and Rachamim Comforty. At home in Plovidv, Bulgaria. Not in picture: Bitush, Jacky's father, who was interned in a forced labor camp.  Note Jewish star on Rachamim.  March, 1943.
In the center: Rachamim Comforty and his two wives.  His first wife was Rosa (left). Her sister, Rachelle (right), became his second wife after Rosa died. 
Dupnitza, Bulgaria; 1920.
Jewish wedding party, early 1920's.   Rachamim Comforty, is the third on the right. Rachelle and Roza Comforty is seated at the far end.
King Boris III and Hitler.
From the moment the Nazis came to power, the Bulgarian regime allied itself with Germany. In 1934, King Boris III assumed dictatorial power in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s alliance with Germany grew ever stronger. Germany was its main partner in trade. Bulgaria sold agricultural products and bought, in return, machinery and weapons. But it imported more: Nazi ideology and propaganda, anti-Semitism, and a national arrogance. Young Bulgarians joined youth movements in imitation of Hitler youth groups. Bulgarian children learned to give the Nazi salute.  
Later, anti Jewish laws were passed and all Jews had to start wearing Yellow Jewish Stars. 
Jewish slave laborers in a Bulgarian forced labor camp near the Greek border. 1942. Bitush Comforty, Jacky Comforty's father is first on the right On the road huge piles of rocks, each is the daily quota for a team of three laborers..
Mother and Child with doll: 
 The mother and child from Skopje were deported by the Bulgarian government on March, 12 1943. Here they are about to embark a Bulgarian train that will take them to Treblinka.  They and all those deported with them were brutally murdered shortly after arrival to the final destination.  




People from all walks of life helped their friends and neighbors.
 
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