Leontina Arditi -- An Actress Looks Back

Leontina Arditi's film of growing up in a poor Sephardic familiy in Sofia takes us inside a world now lost to us. By sharing with us her familiy pictures, and the stories that go with them, Leontina brings her impoverished -- but not unhappy --- childhood to life. Here in one of Sofia's poorest quarters, we meet Jews and non-Jews, parents and boyfriends. For those who have wondered why Bulgarians have long been considered to be less anti-Semitic than their neighbors, Leontina gives us her opinion, and closes her story with a tribute to Bulgaria's multi-ethnic culture.

Study Guides


An article provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the history of Bulgaria during the Second World War.

An article from Britannica Online Encyclopedia on Bulgaria´s early communist era.

A history of the Yellow Badge, which Jews were forced to wear starting in 1938.


Until 1878, Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. Through its long history, the Empire controlled Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Egypt, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, as well as parts of Arabia and large amounts of the North African coast. Find a brief summary of Ottoman history here, or explore this site from the University of Michigan's Turkish Studies Department for more information.


Leontina grew up in Sofia. There have been Jewish communities in Sofia since Roman times, augmented over the centuries by Jews from Hungary, Bavaria, Spain, Germany, Russia, Romania, and Galicia. Find here a history of Jewish life in Sofia, or read this account from the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture.


Bulgaria was part of the Axis Alliance during the Second World War, during which time it occupied areas of Greek Thrace, Macedonia, and Serbia. Learn more about Bulgaria's involvement in the war here. This page contains a summary of the Axis Alliance powers, detailing their participation in the war and overviews of their surrenders.