About the Project

A Storyteller’s Story began as an assignment for the Advanced Public History Workshop Curating Difficult Knowledge: Engaging with the aftermath of violence through exhibitions, memorials and sites of conscience, designed by Dr. Erica Lehrer and co-taught with Dr. Monica Patterson in Concordia University’s History Department  in Winter 2011. The course readings considered the mediation of memory through acts of communication, documentation, and public circulation, and raised difficult questions regarding assumptions, boundary negotiations, competing declarations of meaning, and divergent modes of expression. Each student group was given a video recording of a Holocaust survivor’s testimony (generously contributed by the Community-University Research Alliance project Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and other Human Rights Violations), and was tasked with a series of steps of analysis, research, and contextualization designed to bring them into deep relationship with the testimony and its many layers of mediation. They were then asked to “re-curate” the testimony in a way that highlighted some of these layers, revealing often divergent understandings that exist within communities regarding their “shared” histories, as well as among different public audiences — and sometimes in individuals themselves.

The students worked extremely hard to do justice to the difficult materials they were working with, and the challenging task they were presented. Among a number of creative testimonial products, there were a few that displayed potential for development into public products for broader audiences. Drs. Lehrer and Patterson decided to establish CDK Productions, a non-profit media production company, to mentor and nurture such projects. Using a process of multi-stage workshopping and preliminary public display during which critical feedback was gleaned, they worked with the student filmmakers to develop A Storyteller’s Story into the film and website you see here.

The film – in our view – humanizes Ted in unusual ways. It lets him be seen as more than just a survivor of violence; it shows the choices he has to continually make about when and where to tell, and why; it suggests the ways that stories can be as concealing (and protective for the teller) as they can be revealing. We hope that any discomfort the film provokes by being a different kind of Holocaust survivor testimony than those we are accustomed to raises questions not about Ted Bolgar or the Holocaust, but about ourselves as viewers, about our expectations and assumptions and needs and desires with respect to stories of violence. The viewer’s guide serves to focus attention on these issues.

The Filmmakers

This project was conceived as a video installation piece and first shown at the CEREV Exhibition lab in the Winter 2011. The original group members were Matthew Foster, Florencia Marchetti, Rachel Rotrand, and Alejandro Yoshizawa. Florencia Marchetti and Alejandro Yoshizawa stepped in as co-directors, collaborating to transform the installation into a single channel video piece. Florencia acted as the film’s main producer and Alejandro as its editor.

Florencia Marchetti is a PhD student in Concordia’s Humanities program at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture. She has a degree in Social Communications and graduate training in Anthropology from Universidad Nacional de Cordoba in Argentina. In 2005 she moved from Cordoba to California, obtaining a MA in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz. Her thesis video essay, called Haunting Presences (2007, 42’), explores the memories, fears and silences of the residents of a marginalized area in the city of Cordoba. Her documentary photo work has been widely used by community groups in the area, as well as published and filed as part of the Provincial Memory Archive. Her doctoral project at Concordia builds on her previous ethnographic research and documentary work on the politics of memory and the memories of everyday life under state sponsored terrorism in post-dictatorship Argentina.

Alejandro Yoshizawa is an MA student in the History department at Concordia University (Montreal) as well as a film & digital media producer for the History department at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver).  Alejandro previously worked as the lead filmmaker for the Chinese Canadian Stories project, 2010-2012. Academically, Alejandro is interested in Japanese and Asian-Canadian history, oral history, and film.  His latest film is The Hunt For Matsutake (2012), which chronicles the history of Pine mushroom (matsutake) hunting in the Japanese-Canadian community.

The Executive Producers

Erica Lehrer is an associate professor in the departments of History and Sociology/Anthropology at Concordia University, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory, Ethnography and Museology. She is also the founding Director of CEREV, the Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence.

Monica Eileen Patterson is a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence at Concordia University. She has a Ph.D. in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan.


We would like to express our collective gratitude to Ted Bolgar, the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, and Concordia University’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the aftermath of Violence , and History Department  for their support of this project. We are also indebted to all those who offered thoughtful critical commentary on the developing project, including Eszter Andor, Jackie Celemnicki, Frank Chalk, Hank Greenspan, Alice Herscovitch, Steve High, Kimberley Moore, Eric Scott, Anna Sheftel, Roger Simon, and Stacey Zembrzycki. We are particularly grateful to Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zebrzycki for sharing with us both their personal connection with Ted Bolgar and insights from their own related research, as presented in their article “Professionalizing Survival: The Politics of Public Memory among Holocaust Survivor-Educators in Montreal,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, forthcoming.

Citation Information

A Storyteller’s Story. Dir: Florencia Marchetti and Alejandro Yoshizawa. CDK Productions, 2012. Video.

“About this Project” [or the name of the specific page you want to cite]. A Storyteller’s Story. CDK Productions, December 2012. Web. [date of access].