The Batte Center Presents: A Southern Circuit Film: Big Sonia

Sep 12
Tue @ 7:00 pm
A Southern Circuit Film: Big Sonia
September 12, 2017
Tue at 7:00 pm
The Batte Center & Union County Community Arts Council
McGee Theatre

For years, Sonia Warshawski (90) 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. BIG SONIA explores what it means to be a survivor and how this affects families and generations. Will you let your trauma define you? Or will your past make you stronger?


Filmmaker Leah Warshawski will be present for the film screening and engage audiences in a question and answer session afterwards.



The Southern Circuit is the South’s only tour of emerging and respected filmmakers, providing communities with a free and interactive way of experiencing independent film. The Circuit presents filmmakers screening and discussing their work with campus and community audiences. 


Brief Film Synopsis:

BIG SONIA is a documentary film about a tiny woman with huge impact. Standing tall at 4’8″, Sonia Warshawski is a tiny woman with a huge personality. Diva, business owner and Holocaust survivor, Sonia has just been served an eviction notice for John’s Tailoring, the last (and most popular) shop of a dying mall in suburban Kansas City. Sonia struggles with retirement, while her life lessons span generations.


Filmmaker Statement:

”While Sonia has appeared on television many times as one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Kansas City, 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're 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.

As Sonia's granddaughter I have a unique perspective on many of her idiosyncrasies – her whimsical doodles (which are used as graphic elements in the film); her deeply contradictory nature – warm and available to her patrons and the high-schoolers and prisoners she visits and shares her story with, yet judgmental and somewhat distant with her children. Because Sonia loves the camera and being the center of attention, she has opened doors to interviews with members of the community who may not otherwise be willing, by telling them that her “granddaughter is making a movie about her life.” Not only do I have Sonia’s trust, but I also have the confidence of the rest of the family, who are grateful to share the spotlight and let us in on differing perspectives, having grown up in the large shadow of this diminutive woman.

Our ultimate goal for the film is to finish while Sonia is still in good health, since we would like her to be involved in our outreach as much as possible. One prisoner we interviewed said, "They don't teach Sonia in school," and we are motivated to foster and promote peacebuilding, human rights, and social justice by bringing BIG SONIA (and hopefully Sonia herself) to as many communities as we can.”

[Source: Leah Warshawski]


Running Time: 1:33:50

Genre: Documentary