In the last store in a defunct shopping mall, 91-year-old Sonia Warshawski - great-grandmother, businesswoman, and Holocaust survivor - runs the tailor shop she's owned for more than thirty...
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In the last store in a defunct shopping mall, 91-year-old Sonia Warshawski - great-grandmother, businesswoman, and Holocaust survivor - runs the tailor shop she's owned for more than thirty years. But when she's served an eviction notice, the specter of retirement prompts Sonia to revisit her harrowing past as a refugee and witness to genocide. A poignant story of generational trauma and healing, BIG SONIA also offers a laugh-out-loud-funny portrait of the power of love to triumph over bigotry, and the power of truth-telling to heal us all.
Big Sonia, winner multiple Audience and Jury awards across the country
and internationally, packs such a powerful punch it will transform the
way you look at the world.Husband and wife filmmaking team, Todd
Soliday and Leah Warshawski, have a synergy that translates directly
onto the screen.
The making of Big Sonia is almost as profound as the movie itself. What
began as an idea to create a colorful short about Director/Producer
Leah Warshawski's 87-year-old (now 92) grandmother, a Holocaust
survivor and unlikely fashion diva whose popular tailor shop was the
only store still operating in a decrepit Kansas City mall.
While this is certainly story enough, when they arrived to begin
filming, Leah and Todd discover that Grandma Sonia isn't simply a pint
size octogenarian tearing into her daily illegal parking space, thick
red lipstick and highly stylized hair barely peering over the
leopard-wrapped steering wheel. This woman is all that and a courageous
force whose public speaking tours are changing the lives of everyone
she meets, from middle school students to prisoners at the state
Intuitively, the filmmakers expanded the short into a full-length
feature, a movie that beautifully braids layers of loss and redemption
with the story themes. Soliday's film editing is masterful.
Every bit of the story line resonates: Sonia's eviction notice from the
mall threatening to close the tailor shop; adult prisoners and public
school students visibly affected by Sonia's story; a difficult history
uniquely recreated with creative (and sensitive) animation by artist,
Rachel Ignotofsky and Dawn Norton; the impact of Sonia's experience on
the lives of her grown children; and, of course, the wild ride that is
Sonia herself, from holding court at the tailor shop to sharing the
remnants of her mother's scarf with shaking hands, cutting flowers and
choosing her lavish outfits.
Each thread strengthens the overall film, working together to create
something greater than the individual parts, resulting in an experience
so profound and beautiful that, by the end, you are stunned. Everything
has somehow shifted, especially your worldview, and each tiny thing is
now visible through a new lens. If you care about good storytelling,
see this movie; prepare to be moved.
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