Union College to Present 'Big Sonia' as Part of South Arts Southern Circuit Tour

Published on
September 05, 2017

Union College presents Big Sonia with filmmaking team Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday as part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers at Rector Little Theatre, Barbourville, Ky., on Monday, Sept. 11Union College presents Big Sonia with filmmaking team Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday as part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers at Rector Little Theatre, Barbourville, Ky., on Monday, Sept. 11. Following a screening of the film, the filmmakers will be in attendance to participate in a discussion with the audience about the film and their work. Tickets are available from the Fine Arts Department at Union College. Union’s participation in the South Arts Film Festival has been made possible, in part, through a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and generous support from Jane Skidmore and Shelia Halter. 

Big Sonia follows a tiny woman with huge impact. Standing tall at 4’8’’, Sonia Warshawski packs an oversized personality. Diva, business owner, and Holocaust survivor, Sonia is served an eviction notice for John’s Tailoring, the last (and most popular) shop inside a dying mall in suburban Kansas City. Sonia struggles with retirement, while her life lessons span generations.

“While Sonia has appeared on television many times as one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Kansas City,” explained filmmaker and Sonia’s granddaughter Leah Warshawski, “the story that the news media insists upon is only the tip of the iceberg. We are making this film because within our lifetime, we will witness the death of the last holocaust survivor. We want to ensure their stories will not be forgotten, and we want to do it in a unique way that captures the attention of the broadest audience possible. We are not making a typical “Jewish movie” or a ‘holocaust movie.’ Instead, we are creating a unique, humorous, and engaging film (for people of all races and religions) that will encourage audiences to examine their own lives and how to maximize each precious day.”

Producer and co-director Leah Warshawksi, returning to Southern Circuit after touring with the film Finding Hillywood in 2014, produces documentary-style features, television, commercials and branded entertainment in remote parts of the world. Finding Hillywood won six awards including the Critic’s Award (Sebastool Doc Festival) and the Audience Award (Napa Film Festival), and screened at more than 65 festivals. Her career in film began in Hawaii working in the marine department for the hit television shows Lost and Survivor.

Co-director Soliday is a jack-of-all-trades with 25 years of film experience in production and post-production. He specializes in documentary storytelling and adventure films such as 2007’s Platinum. Soliday Previously collaborated with Warshawski by serving as post-production supervisor on Finding Hillywood, providing creative direction for a dynamic graphics package, handled distribution deliverables, and edited a music video for the film.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. South Arts, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit regional arts organization building on the South’s unique heritage and enhancing the public value of the arts. Their work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective, through an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and linking the South with the nation and the world through the arts.