Subtitled “The Story of the Rescue of the Jews of Bulgaria,” “The Optimists” explores another courageous, little-known chapter in the saga of resistance and heroics during World War II. Too thematically specialized and technically modest for theatrical, future looks upbeat at suitably themed fests, with a secure edutube and vid niche to follow.
Per helmer Jacky Comforty, Bulgaria was the only country in Nazi-occupied Europe to save the bulk of its Jewish population. Among those 50,000 was his own grandfather, Rachamim, who was herded to a school yard with family and neighbors in March 1943 expecting a train to Auschwitz. The train never showed up, leading to one of the many stories of personal bravery and compassion that sprang from relative harmony between Christians and Jews in Bulgaria. Culled from hundreds of hours of interview and archival footage and some 5,000 photographs, pic is named for moniker of Bulgarian jazz band that emigrated Stateside. Tech credits are OK, with some vid interview footage appearing muddy and washed out. Pic won the first prize award at the 2000 Jerusalem fest for docus about the Jewish experience.