Big Sonia Review

A Life That Teaches Us Much

Sonia Warshawski is a diminutive 91-year old woman from Kansas who, no doubt, you will not have heard of unless you are from the area. But you should, you really should.

Sonia’s granddaughter, Leah Warshawski (Finding Hollywood, Survivor (TV)), and husband Todd Soliday (Out Of Luck, The Breach), along with writer Eric Frith (The Breach, Song Of The New Earth) have put together this documentary about her.

Sonia is the remaining tenant of a Kansas shopping mall where she has taken over her husband’s tailoring shop after he passed away. She never wanted to run the shop, she never thought she would run the shop, but she just couldn’t let it go.

Despite being the only shop in the mall it does amazingly well with regular customers, some of whom have been using her services for over 20 years.

But the mall can’t last forever, and she is eventually served her notice. This is yet another event in Sonia’s life that she must go through, after already surviving the holocaust.

Sonia was in three concentration camps during the war after being taken from her home in Poland. She has harrowing stories which she shares, with the help of her daughter Regina, to school children and those serving time in prison.

But it’s more than that, so much more. Sonia and her story aren’t just told, they move people. When she’s speaking to prisoners they are breaking down, stunned at what this woman has been through.

When children hear her say that she doesn’t have hate for the people who were involved they can’t believe it. She inspires one young girl, Caroline Kennedy, so much that she starts her own youth-run nonprofit that teaches them about global issues and leadership skills.

Sonia is a larger than life character, driving around in her giant Oldsmobile, showing her love of animal prints and inspiring others to have love in their hearts.

The documentary is very well put together, perhaps a couple of drone shots I could have done without but otherwise, brilliant.

It’s a moving piece of work but it doesn’t feel self-indulgent. Sonia’s stories are illustrated with animation, something we’ve seen used before and is well used here.

The documentary doesn’t shy away from showing the atrocities of the concentration camps or the raw emotion of Sonia’s family and friends in the recounting of her story.

There is so much packed in to a short run time and so much I’d like to tell you about it but really, you should see it, witness this moving and brilliantly told piece of work for yourself.

You can see the trailer for Big Sonia here.

Big Sonia will be in select cinemas from the 17th November 2017. www.bigsonia.com

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