Jacky Comforty speaks and lectures about programs, methodology and technologies he developed for content creation from his media archives. A task that made him a developer, creator and distributor of innovative new media and cyber content.

Bulgaria’s Jews and the Holocaust in Bulgaria:

A unique story of friendship in Bulgaria that resulted in the survival of a large part of the Jewish population during WWII, at a tragic price. It took one transport with some 12,000 people to mobilize people to stall the continuation of the deportations. The Holocaust in Bulgaria’s is often denied, often ignored story that offers lessons about history and humanity. The dramatic, tragic, and also inspirational story offers insight into an obscure and complex situation that stimulates discussion about the power of people to stop genocide, and to make a positive change. It is a story with educational, ethical, and human messages, featuring universal role models of religious leaders, educators, politicians and public figures. The Optimists lends itself to a variety of exciting and engaging activities:

A screening of the full 81 minutes film The Optimists about Holocaust and survival in Bulgarian. Winner of the peace prize at the Berlin film festival and the Jewish experience award at the Jerusalem international film festival. Follows the screening  a Q & A session with the the film’s director Jacky Comforty who researched the subject for 30 years.

The Optimists is a moving and inspiring springboard for conversations and reflections. Perfect for adult evening programs in houses of worship, interfaith activities, or in academic settings. An inspiring film and a program to remember, plus universal role models and their stories as captured by the film.

A 40-minute session screening of a short version of The Optimists (25 minutes) followed by Q&A.  Ideal for students that are 10-13 year old.

A screening of Balkan Jazz

The Optimists relates to a verity of academic fields: Jewish studies, Balkan studies, history, ethnography, ethics and religion, sociology and education. It tells a complex story with tragic consequences and with some inspiring actions. It lends itself well to a span of subjects and emphasis, and allows for customized workshops based on interest:
From a documentary and ethnographic filmmaking standpoint, from a historical standpoint and holocaust related, and as an act of moral and social importance.

Full-day workshop:
A lecture accompanied by video clips and media from the private ethnographic and historical research conducted over 30 years. Group discussions, screenings of two full length documentaries (The Optimists, and the new Balkan Jazz) and other experience-based participatory activities and discussions about moral and ethical responsibilities, and all the universal examples of goodness and humanity that emerge from this story.

The full day workshop will include creative writing component, a group discussion, a trial, and personal reflection and expression.

Half-day program dedicated to the story of the Jews of Bulgaria during the Holocaust. Screening of The Optimists, individual reflection, group discussions and Q&A with filmmaker.

Documenting History and the Holocaust:

A series of four screenings and lectures about the ethics, aesthetics, techniques and the lessons emerging from documenting the Holocaust. Each film is about a different aspect of the story and provides a springboard to a discussion about different ways to see the Holocaust in documentaries, sieving through the oral histories with survivors, ancestors, rescuers, eyewitnesses and experts.

  1. The Optimists: The Bulgarian Jews during the Holocaust. Bulgaria collaborated with Nazi Germany and deported 12,000 Jews from its newly occupied and annexed territories. The deportation awoke resistance that stalled the continuation of the genocidal plans. The death of the king and the war nearing the end helped the survival of the rest of the Jewish population.
  2. Balkan Jazz: Another take at the same story from a different point of view. Personal rather than global, when memories collide and fade.
  3. In the Shadow of Memory: Legacy of Lidice. A prism into the multigenerational effects of Nazi atrocity on Christian victims. Survivors seek comfort, hope and peace. Their children struggle with grief, helplessness, anger and hatred. The grandchildren, young and innocent learn about the tragedy on their own skin. By bits and pieces the magnitude of the story that casted this shadow over their family comes alive.
  4. Children’s Experiences during the Holocaust as told by survivors. Hidden children, children in concentration camps, escaping children and children on-the-run. Screening of Crossroad Lisbon, and excerpts from oral histories with Lea Sjoberg, Aaron Elster,  Heddy Epstein and Harry Burger.
  5. Creating Educational Programs about the Holocaust. For museums and schools. What to show and what not, what is worth teaching and what is not. Moral and ethical questions that arise in the process.

Media and Cyber Literacy Course for School Teachers:

A creative, mind-widening set of lessons and “hands-on” work, teaching teachers how to view media critically, how to use their smart phones  and common sense to acquire and use media sensibly and effectively for learning, in the classroom and beyond.  And to become aware of the ethics, aesthetics and economics of media creation and usage for insightful learning.

Documenting Inclusive Education and Culture:

Screening of the award-winning video Step by Step: Heather’s Story and discussion about the process and the culture that  is needed to make inclusion work and to keep it up.

Cyber Literacy and Cyber Content Development:

Content development for museums exhibitions and for learning in this day and age. Localized installation in global locations.

Rescue, Rescuers & Universal Role Models:

A workshop dedicated to acts of goodness, that can inspire any audience. From Herbert Hoover’s heroic efforts to save the world from famine, to Howard Gardner re-defining intelligence and setting a contentoprary moral standard for scientists. Acts of heroism and rescue by people who risked their lives to help a friend a neighbor, or a stranger. The best of the human spirit: educators who acted as universal role models, religious leaders who championed religious tolerance, a parliamentarian who risked his position for humanity’s sake, and many simple people who are role models of courage and humanity.

Jacky also lectures about content development from archives. Some of his presentations are accompanied by video, some are about using video to document, teach and present.  Jacky is  a participant in national and international conferences and conventions, seminars and festivals. He speaks and conducts workshops with diverse audiences in schools, universities, museums, libraries, houses of worship, and movie theaters. Fluent in four languages he speaks and shows his work internationally.

Previous subjects of lectures included:

  • Media-literate documentation methodologies.
  • Educational media literacy for teachers.
  • Oral history and heritage preservation projects.
  • The Bulgarian Jews, their heritage and the Holocaust.
  • Media in museums and applied media creation.
  • Inclusion and me.
  • Documenting love and hate, humanity and atrocity and their generational effects.