Maui Arts & Entertainment

“Big Sonia” film premieres, thanks to perseverance of Maui filmmakers

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Maui filmmakers have announced the Hawaii Premiere of their documentary ”Big Sonia” on Hawaii Public Television on April 30 at 8 p.m.

Two Maui filmmakers have announced the Hawaiʻi Premiere of their documentary ”Big Sonia” on Hawaiʻi Public Television on April 30 at 8 p.m.

The story is about a 91-year-old great-grandmother, businesswoman and Holocaust survivor Sonia Warshawski who runs a tailor shop she has owned for more than 30 years.

When she is served an eviction notice, the specter of retirement prompts Sonia to revisit her harrowing past as a refugee and witness to genocide.

This story of trauma and healing offers a portrait of the power of love to triumph over bigotry, and the power of truth-telling to heal.


Maui filmmakers Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday spent more than 12 years creating this loving and thought-provoking portrait — one that has attracted positive comments by reviewers.

The Hollywood Reporter said the film was “Engaging and thoughtful… An unforgettable woman refuses to forget in this thoughtful exploration of history’s fallout.”

They’ve persevered against some of modern history’s most jaw-dropping events — the election of president who had never held office, the storming of the US Capitol, and now the invasion of a sovereign nation. It seems Sonia’s story has never been more relevant.

Sonia’s enormous personality masks 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.

Her story serves as a cultural and generational bridge.

Her story must never be forgotten.


Warshawski and Soliday are long-time Oʻahu and Maui residents who operate a video production business, serving such clients as Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, the Obama Foundation, and Hawaiʻi Wildlife Discovery Center.

They are currently working on location in Maui on the production of two short films, “Uncle Bully’s Surf Skoool” and “One Grand.”

For a weekly listing of Maui music and other events, go to Maui Entertainment, Arts, Community, April 7-13 and click here.

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