'National treasure', Holocaust survivor, and diva, Sonia Warshawski (90), has just been served an eviction notice for her popular tailor shop in suburban Kansas City. A 'wounded healer', Sonia's trauma comes to the surface as she struggles with the concept of retirement.
Interview with Directors Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Our main character was 85 when we started filming and we knew we needed to tell her story while she was still in good health. Thankfully she’s now 91 and still going strong!
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
This film is unlike any “Holocaust” film you’ve ever seen. You will leave inspired to make the most out of every single day, and have a deeper understanding of your own challenges and issues.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Our film is a personal and universal journey at the same time. By family members talking about intergenerational trauma and showing their vulnerability on screen, it makes the film relatable and universal… Because we’re all “surviving” something, or someone. And we all have our own challenges. Personal and universal themes are intricately woven throughout the film and we worked hard to make BIG SONIA a film that families can watch together.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
We began with the intention of making a short film, and over the course of 6 years or story evolved - and changed - and the film is now a feature. There are a lot of layers in the film that we didn’t expect to shine through at first and we could not be happier with how the film turned out.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback from audiences is uniformly positive. Many tearful Q/A sessions where people say “thank you for saying the things we can’t say”. Many audiences are relating to themes in the film and coming back with their friends and families multiple nights. We won the Best Doc & Audience Award at Napa Film Festival during our festival premiere and we’re hoping to win more along the way.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We are always surprised by the intense emotional reactions people have to the movie, and it has given me more compassion for others as I understand now that we’re all a little bit “damaged”. My personal journey of making the film inspired a TedX talk that I’ll give this Saturday called “How Do You Cope With The Trauma You Didn’t Experience?"
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
As we try to grow our support base and interest for the film we’re grateful for all press support we can get.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Currently all rights are still available and we hope to have a theatrical release by this Fall.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Ideally we’d like to impact people with diverse political views, ages, races, cultures, etc. and open up dialogue about the current state of the world - and why Sonia’s story and lessons are more important now than ever. Her message of “love” versus hate is impactful now in our current world where hate crimes are still happening.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m co-ep for a feature doc called PERSONHOOD and consulting with other filmmakers on distribution and outreach. We are also looking for our next project! We would love to work on short films with adventure and outdoor themes.
Interview: February 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday
About the writer, director and producer:
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Distributors, Journalists, Film Festival Directors
Made in association with:
Where can I see it in the next month?
All screenings listed here: http://bigsonia.com/screenings/