Global Experience: Big Sonia Screening and Discussion
Tell a Friend About This EventTell a Friend
Global Experience:  Big Sonia Screening and Discussion

The IRC's Global Experience series asks, "What's your global story? Do you have the chance to share it?" Join Park University, the National Archives, and the IRC on Monday, April 9, as we explore the story of 91-year-old Sonia Warshawski – great-grandmother, businesswoman, and Holocaust survivor – who has deep ties to Kansas City. This program, in which we'll view and discuss the film, is free and open to the public. Registration is requested to help with planning; please see the link below.

4/9/2018
When: Monday, April 9, 2018
6-8:15 p.m.
Where: Park University Theater/Alumni Hall
8700 NW River Park Drive
Parkville, Missouri  64152
United States
Contact: April Diaz
816-423-2632

« Go to Upcoming Event List  


About the Film
Standing tall at 4'8", Sonia is one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Kansas City and one of the only survivors there who speaks publicly about her wartime experience. Sonia’s enormous personality and fragile frame mask the horrors she endured. At 15 she watched her mother disappear behind gas chamber doors. Sonia’s teenage years were a blur of concentration camps and death marches. On liberation day, she was accidentally shot through the chest, yet again miraculously survived. Sonia is the ultimate survivor, a bridge between cultures and generations. Her story must never be forgotten.


Sonia's Story
The film interweaves Sonia's past and present using first-person narrative with stories from family and friends. Along the way, we learn valuable life lessons – "Soniaisms" – from a woman who can barely see over the steering wheel, yet insists on driving herself to work every day to run her late husband's tailor shop, John's Tailoring. Running the shop is Sonia's entire being – it is her reason for living and the center of her life. Sonia is a "diva" and she's known for wearing leopard print and high-heel shoes – she is the most popular woman I know. Her influence spans generations and cultures, and we see first-hand how she transforms a room of self-involved teenagers into thoughtful citizens. Sonia is an enigma.


To Register
Online registration is requested and is available here ». More information about the event is available below.


Directions and Parking
The program will be held in the theater in Park University's Alumni Hall (Building 10 on the campus map »). General parking is indicated in red on the map. View the campus map here »


Event Sponsors


Additional Event Information
Sonia Warshawski is one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors living in the Kansas City area, and one of the only survivors who speaks publicly about her wartime experience. Sonia’s enormous personality and fragile 4-foot-8-inch frame mask the horrors she endured.

On Monday, April 9, Park University will host a program that will include a screening of Warshawski’s story, “Big Sonia,” a live music performance and a panel discussion starting at 6 p.m. in the Jenkin and Barbara David Theater inside Alumni Hall on the University’s Parkville Campus. Admission to the event, a part of Park’s 2017-18 Year of Diversity series of events, is free and open to the public. To ensure seating, registration is requested at park.edu/bigsonia.

The event will begin with a short performance by the Park University International Center for Music’s Ben Sayevich, professor of music/violin, and his wife, Lolita Lisovskaya-Sayevich, director of collaborative piano. The duo will perform “Nigun” from the suite “Baal-Shem: Three Pictures of Chassidic Life” composed by Ernest Bloch and “Schindler’s List for Violin and Piano” composed by John Williams. The film screening will begin at approximately 6:15 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion at approximately 7:45 p.m. Panelists will include: Rabbi Doug Alpert from Congregation Kol Ami in Kansas City, Mo.; Brian Cowley, Ph.D., Park University professor of psychology who has expertise in the Holocaust; and Jennifer Tavernaro, an educational adviser on the film who has been teaching Holocaust education and Warshawski’s story for the past 10 years in her classroom at Lakewood Middle School in the Blue Valley (Kan.) School District. Tavernaro’s students are highlighted in the film.

At 15, Warshawski watched her mother disappear behind gas chamber doors, and her teenage years were a blur of concentration camps and death marches. On liberation day, she was accidentally shot through the chest, yet miraculously survived. Warshawski is the ultimate survivor — a bridge between cultures and generations.

The film, produced and co-directed by Warshawski’s granddaughter, Leah Warshawski, and co-directed by Todd Soliday, interweaves Sonia’s past and present using first-person narrative with stories from family and friends. Along the way, valuable life lessons, known as “Soniaisms,” are presented from a woman who can barely see over the steering wheel, yet insists on driving herself to work every day to run her late husband’s tailor shop. Running the shop is Sonia’s entire being — it is her reason for living and the center of her life. Sonia is a “diva” and is known for wearing leopard print and high heel shoes. Her influence spans generations and cultures, and the film shows how she transforms a room of self-involved teenagers into thoughtful citizens.

“Big Sonia” has won 18 awards, most recently the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Barcelona International Film Festival and the Best Film Grand Prize at the Cleveland International Film Festival, both in 2017. In the Kansas City region, it was named the Best Heartland Documentary at the Kansas City Film Festival and Best Local Film by Movie Trip Cinema, and won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Tallgrass Film Festival, all in 2017.

The screening takes place two days before Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the lives and heroism of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust. The event is presented in partnership with the International Relations Council, Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and National Archives at Kansas City.

Sign In


Calendar

6/23/2018
Family Event: World Refugee Day

7/14/2018
Global Experience: Sister Cities Film Festival

8/15/2018
IRC Book Club: Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America

10/16/2018
Your Global Future

Latest News