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 penitentiary.
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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