Interview: ‘Big Sonia’ Directors Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday

Big Sonia (in select theaters now) is a fantastic documentary about a woman that has overcome tremendous obstacles in her life, surviving the Holocaust being one of them. Sonia’s life is one-of-a-kinda and it’s chronicled by her granddaughter Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday, who direct this film. Check out my fun and insightful conversation with them below

What prompted you to have this be the point now to make this film:

LW: We began filming when Sonia was eighty-five and at that time we realized that in our lifetime all of the survivors (Holocaust) would be gone.

TS: The clock was ticking. 

LW: The clock was ticking. Also, when we set out to make the film we started out making a short film, it obviously morphed into something bigger and multi-themed. Our intention was to make a short film when she was eighty-five about the shop while she was still healthy. 

How did you plot and plan the movie: 

LW: As you probably know as I’m sure you talk to many filmmakers, everything in the process is dictated by budget and funding and how much you have or don’t have. For us it’s been a six-and-a-half year fundraising process. I’d say we are still raising money, we are always raising money to keep going. Funding is essentially who it took us as long as it did. 

TS: We knew it was a fair bet that Sonia would land in a way that only Sonia can land as she’s done over and over throughout her life. So many times she shouldn’t have survived, but she did.

REAL TALK:

I really enjoyed speaking to Leah and Todd. They were very forthcoming and personable. There are so many notable little tidbits that they shared about Sonia and the filmmaking process. It was interesting to hear Leah talk about the movie bringing her closer to Sonia than she ever was. Todd’s takeaway was also notable how making this film and witnessing Sonia made him reflect on his own family dynamic and appreciate it that much more. This is what this movie accomplishes. Sonia is an inspirational person. To survive the Holocaust and share her life experiences with people seeking guidance and a perspective is very powerful.

I can relate to having a Sonia-like family member. Coming from a Eastern European family background, I’ve had family members that had a little Sonia in them. In a sense I think of my mom. There is a lot all of us can take away from Sonia. Her spirit is infectious. I know seeing her go about her life motivated me in many ways. First of all I wanna be in damn good shape like she is, so I need to up my activity level! The fish topic was my favorite. I had no idea anyone liked fish in jelly?

Do you have someone in your family similar to Sonia? What did you take away from what Leah and Todd had to say? Please let me know if you’re a jelly fish aficionado hiding out there. Leave your comments and share below or let me know on Twitter @TheJimAlexander or @TheReelTalker

Big Sonia is out now in select theaters, check your local theater listings

Must See Movie Releases Of The Week (November 14)

ATOMIC BLONDE:

One of the years most exciting action thrillers stars Charlize Theron as a kick-ass MI6 spy. The movie is set in the late 1980’s and it looks and feels every bit of that time period. The action takes place in Berlin, Germany right at the pinnacle of the Berlin Wall demise. James McAvoy also stars alongside Theron as her sketchy acquaintance, but don’t be confused, Theron is the clear star of the film. It’s as physically impressive performance as she’s given, she puts Jason Bourne to shame with the beatdowns she puts on the baddies. Theron has a fantastic fight scene that’s arguably this years best, it takes up over 10 minutes of continual screen time and will have you gasping with awe. Aside from a somewhat convoluted and confusing plot that has an overabundance of twists and turns, Atomic Blonde is satisfactory and entertaining. It nails the time period and the look of it. Theron proves she can mix it up with the best of them. Simply, this movie is as cool as you could hope it would be.

BONUS FEATURES on 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Welcome to Berlin – The ultimate setting for a Cold War spy thriller, Berlin becomes a character of its own. Go behind the wall for this making-off.
  • Blondes Have More Gun – Lorraine Broughton has one impressive set of skills. See what it took for Charlize Theron to fully transform herself into this tenacious character.
  • Spymaster – David Leitch spins the spy genre on its head through exemplary action sequences and complex characters. Hear from cast and crew what it was like to work with this cutting edge director.
  • Anatomy of a Fight Scene – Director David Leitch breaks down the incredibly detailed long-take stairwell shot in this anatomy of a fight scene.
  • Story in Motion: Agent Broughton – See Agent Broughton as you never have before in these motion storyboards.
  • Story in Motion: The Chase – Gascoigne is on the run. Find out who’s after him in this motion storyboard.
  • Feature Commentary with Director David Leitch and Editor Elisabet Ronaldsdottir

Atomic Blonde is out now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and On Demand

Blu-ray Rating: 8/10 (special features including)