Expired May 6, 2021 9:01 AM
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A QUESTION OF SURVIVAL is a documentary film about the legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans, as seen through the eyes, and conflicting memories, of three Bulgarian Jewish survivors in New York. Chaim Zemach, a cellist; Robert Bakish, an engineer; and Misha Avramoff, a social worker on the Lower East side of Manhattan in New York, lived with their families during the Bulgarian alliance with the Nazis. In March of 1943, the Bulgarian government first postponed and ultimately cancelled the imminent deportation of the entire Bulgarian Jewish community of 48,000, when Misha, Chaim and Robert were ages five, fourteen and seventeen.

After the war, their families left Bulgaria. The three young Bulgarians only grasped how close they came to death after they arrived in New York and learned the fate of millions of European Jews. Ever since, they have struggled to place their unusual story of survival into the more conventional narrative of the Shoah. The realization of how they narrowly escaped the death camps has left them questioning the value of their stories and debating whether they are true Holocaust "survivors."

Elka Nikolova was born in Bulgaria and studied psychology at the University of Sofia before she moved to the United States in 1994. In 2000, she received a Masters of Arts in Media Studies, with a focus on film production, at the New School in New York. She has worked in film and television in New York since 2003. Her first documentary film, BINKA: TO TELL A STORY ABOUT SILENCE (2007), premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is currently working on a two-part documentary, A QUESTION OF SURVIVAL, exploring the legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    56 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Elka Nikolova
  • Screenwriter
    Elka Nikolova
  • Producer
    Elka Nikolova, Vanyo Georgiev
  • Cast
    Misha Avramoff, Chaim Zemach, Robert Bakish
  • Cinematographer
    Vanyo Georgiev
  • Editor
    Elka Nikolova