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Bulgaria: Humanitarian Spirit of the Past and Future

Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 3:30pm to 6:30pm
Madison Ballroom of Renaissance Seattle Hotel
515 Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98104 - Google Map

The Bulgarian Cultural and Heritage Center of Seattle and the Consulate General of Bulgaria in Los Angeles cordially invite you to celebrate Bulgaria’s humanitarian spirit at a screening of two films, classical music, singing, and guest speakers.  The event will take place in the Madison Ballroom of the luxurious Renaissance Seattle Hotel ( on October 27 (Sunday) from 3.30 to 6.30 pm.

This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Bulgaria rescuing its 50,000 Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps during the Second World War. History credits the Bulgarian people and their Orthodox Church. This spring, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.


The Bulgarian Consul General Mr. Marin Dimitrov
will introduce the film "Beyond Hitler's Grasp," featuring the dramatic rescue of Bulgarian Jews during World War II.

Guest speaker Dr. Atanas Todorov will talk about Bulgarian humanitarian heritage, followed by  a performance of Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir accompanied on accordion by Michael Lawson.

Christina Atanasova from the "Bulgarian-Jewish Heritage Alliance of America" will greet the audience.

The premiere of the documentary film “Give” will continue the theme of giving and overcoming adversities. A short Questions and Answers session about the films with Dr. Atanas Todorov and the film director Bogdan Darev will conclude the event.

Cocktails will be offered at a cash bar.

Suggested donation of $10 per person or $20 per family including grandparents (children free) will go to support a coming-of-age children's film being made in Seattle by local film director Bogdan Darev.

Street parking in downtown Seattle is free on Sundays.

Renaissance Seattle Hotel 515 Madison Street, Seattle, Washington 98104. Madison Ballroom is located on the second floor.

We look forward to sharing this afternoon with you, your family and friends!

More information about the featured movies, guest speakers, and participants:

"Beyond Hitler's Grasp" – A 1-hour documentary film describes how, for more than three years, the Bulgarian people succeeded in evading Nazi demands regarding the Bulgarian Jews; how the citizens of the small town Kyustendil sent their representatives to Parliament and stopped the plan to deport Jews to death camps, how the Bulgarian Church managed to stand up to a brutally inhumane and powerful regime. How simple farmers, intellectuals, clergymen, merchants, laborers and union leaders forced their King to protect the Jewish community. The Israeli film maker Nitzan Aviram based the movie on the book of the Bulgarian born writer and historian Dr. Michael Bar-Zohar.

The film was screened at a world premiere at the United Nations in New York. The Bulgarian premiere took place in the Parliament in Sofia in the presence of the President, the House Speaker, Cabinet ministers, Church notables and Parliament members. The film also premiered in Israel, with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as guest of honor.

ulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir ( <>) consists of 30 women all born in Bulgaria. They range in age from 26 to 78. The choir is directed by Mary Sherhart who studied with the professional folk choir Varna in Bulgaria, and has a long career as a teacher and performer of Bulgarian and other Balkan folk songs. The choir formed in 2011 as a program of the Bulgarian Cultural and Heritage Center of Seattle. In addition to singing folk songs and choral arrangements based on folk songs, the women teach each other about customs and holiday rituals, and share their knowledge in the community through concerts and events. The choir members cherish weekly rehearsals that give them the opportunity to be together with other Bulgarian women, away from the stresses and strains of family, work and immigrant life.

"Give" - a 45-minute documentary film by local film director Bogdan Darev. Bogdan Darev is a Bulgarian born filmmaker in Seattle. This fall, right here in Seattle, Bogdan is directing a full-length film featuring Bulgarian children in the leading roles as well as much song and dance. The film "Give" follows six different stories of people just like us overcoming adversity and realizing that when you give something and you do something for someone else, you do more for yourself. This is a wonderful film for the whole family to enjoy, so please bring your teenage children.

Guest speaker Dr. Atanas Todorov has published eleven papers on the fate of the Bulgarian Jews and participates in conferences, and other events on the history and well-being of Jewish communities around the world. He was born in Sofia and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Todorov holds a PhD  in environmental sciences. He worked in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, later as United Nations expert on food security in many countries of the world. After emigrating to the US, he worked at the University of Missouri and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Violinist Victor Samsonov has been playing the violin ever since he was a child. He is here all the way from Thailand to be in the movie filming "Prelude": and is thrilled to play his violin for the community here.

C Daniela Ivanova-Nyberg, PhD,is an artist and scholar based in Silver Lake, WA. She directs “Medena Pitka” Children Folklore Program at the BCHSC.

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