Big Sonia

When you first catch sight of the light in her eyes, it is hard to imagine that the 92-year-old Sonia Warshawski lived through one of the darkest periods of human history. After being sent into slave labor in a Polish ghetto, Warshawski was forced to come of age and lose her family in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Yet 70 years later, the survivor steers her leopard-patterned car to work six days a week, arriving at her tailoring business with a set of brightly painted fingernails and a vibrant shade of lipstick that puts Betty Boop to shame. 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. Her infectious energy is reflected in her granddaughter Leah Warshawski’s camera and in the faces of the community with whom Sonia interacts, from the schoolchildren she fits to the custodian she has greeted each day for 30 years, from the neighborhood deli workers she makes chuckle to the teenagers she teaches about the Shoah. Big Sonia takes its title from a group of prisoners she visits who, towering over her, marvel at the strength contained in her tiny, 4’8” form. This award-winning film captures Sonia’s unforgettable courage. —Zoe Pollak


Directors Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday in person in San Francisco and Palo Alto

Co-sponsored by Roselyne Chroman Swig and Carol Sedlack 

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