The award-winning documentary Big Sonia, co-directed by Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday, is the story of a little woman making a big impact, and was recently nominated for the Best Documentary award by AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards. Big Sonia, winner of the Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Napa Valley Film Festival, is the story of an unlikely hero: Sonia Warshawski survived the Holocaust to make a new life in Kansas City, but that life is about to be uprooted. At 90, what will she do for her life’s next big act?
Says co-director Leah Warshawski: “Congrats to the 8 DAYS A WEEK team! We’re honored to be nominated alongside of award-winning and Academy-nominated films. As a woman who also works ‘8 days a week,’ Sonia is in good company!” Other films nominated for Best Documentary award include ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week’, ‘Everything Is Copy’, ‘Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,’ and ‘Tower’.
Standing tall at 4’8″, Sonia is one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Kansas City and one of the only survivors there who speaks publicly about her wartime experience. Sonia’s enormous personality and fragile frame mask the horrors she endured. At 15 she watched her mother disappear behind gas chamber doors. Sonia’s teenage years were a blur of concentration camps and death marches. On liberation day, she was accidentally shot through the chest, yet again miraculously survived. Sonia is the ultimate survivor, a bridge between cultures and generations. Her story must never be forgotten.
The film interweaves Sonia’s past and present using first-person narrative with stories from family and friends. Along the way, we learn valuable life lessons – “Soniaisms” – from a woman who can barely see over the steering wheel, yet insists on driving herself to work every day to run her late husband’s tailor shop, John’s Tailoring. Running the shop is Sonia’s entire being – it is her reason for living and the center of her life. Sonia is a “diva” and she’s known for wearing leopard print and high heel shoes – she is the most popular woman I know. Her influence spans generations and cultures, and we see first-hand how she transforms a room of self-involved teenagers into thoughtful citizens.