Gesa Power House Theatre will screen the documentary film “Big Sonia” on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. Representatives from Congregation Beth Israel of Walla Walla (Pat Henry, Richard Middleton-Kaplan, James Winchell) will introduce the film and host a short Q&A discussion following the screening.
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.
For years, Sonia Warshawski (91) has been an inspirational public speaker at schools and prisons, where her stories of surviving the Holocaust as a teenager have inspired countless people who once felt their own traumas would leave them broken forever. But when Sonia is served an eviction notice for her iconic tailor shop (in a dead mall), she’s confronted with an agonizing decision: either open up a new shop, or retire. Ironically, Sonia’s shop is the last open business in an otherwise desolate Kansas City mall, but it contains enough color and liveliness to make up for the entire empty complex. For a woman who admits she stays busy “to keep the dark parts away”, facing retirement dredges up fears she’d long forgot she had, and her horrific past resurfaces.
“Big Sonia” explores what it means to be a survivor and how inter-generational trauma affects families and generations. Will you let your trauma define you? Or will your past make you stronger?
“Such a beautiful documentary…an unexpected and vital exploration in a time we need it most. I love Sonia!”
‐ Rosie O’Donnell
Grand Jury Prize: Best Documentary, Barcelona International Film Festival, 2017
Best Film / Audience Award, Cleveland International Film Festival, 2017
Best Documentary, Wilbur Award for Religious Communicators, 2017
Best Documentary, Napa Film Festival, 2016
Audience Award, Napa Film Festival, 2016
Best Heartland Documentary, Kansas City Film Festival, 2017
AARP Movies For GrownUps Nominee, 2017
Best Documentary / Audience Award, Monadnock International Film Festival, 2017
Audience Award, Seattle Jewish Film Festival, 2017
Audience Award, Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, 2017
Audience Award, Mendocino Film Festival, 2017
Shanghai International Film Festival (only US-‐made doc in competition), 2017
Audience Award, Berkshire Jewish Film Festival, 2017
Best Local Film, Movie Trip Cinema (Kansas City), 2017
Reserved seating tickets ($15 Adults, $10 Students) are available online or by calling the box office at 509-529-6500.
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