The life story and music of Niko Nissimov and his Jewish friends, pioneers of Jazz music in Bulgaria. The movie charts the rise of their band Jazz of The Optimists to stardom in the late 1930s. The beginning of WWII changed everything for them as Bulgaria joined the Axis powers. Anti-Jewish laws and restrictions brought the band to a halt. All Jewish men were drafted to slave labor camps, and the entire community was on the verge of extinction. Niko was saved by his friends at the last minute from a transport destined for the death camp of Treblinka.
This testimony to friendship and the human spirit is told by Niko Nissimov, his brother Harry Nissimov, band mate, David Eskin, and his Bulgarian friend and rescuer Anton Kirilov. The rich soundtrack is layered with original music recordings by The Optimists. The private documents, photo albums, and archival footage are the backdrop of this amazing story of creativity, adventure, and endless optimism facing of impossible odds.
Jacky Comforty has created documentary films and videos in the United States, Germany, Israel, and Bulgaria. He commands a range of genres, from documentaries to comedies. He is known for the effective, sensitive, interviewing techniques he has developed for oral histories and other projects requiring on-camera discussions that are genuine, meaningful, and in-depth.
Over the last 30 years, Jacky Comforty has specialized in two main subjects. His work has been groundbreaking in the fields of Inclusive Education and Holocaust Studies. He is particularly known for his work on the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust. He is curator and owner of a large photographic, film, and audio archives of historical and scholarly significance to Holocaust Studies and of smaller collections about early childhood education, peace education, and history.
Jacky Comforty is the creator/producer and distributor of the best-selling Inclusion Series that helped implement inclusive practices in U.S. school districts and is used in hundreds of universities around the country. He currently lives in Bloomington.