Big Sonia is now available on PBS for the next three years! This makes the film even more accessible for your classroom use. Our free curriculum guide for the film features 5 lessons. These include an introduction to the Holocaust, an oral history assignment and more. This incredible film is 96 years in the making. It’s a film you don’t want your students to miss.

Certainly, Sonia’s enormous personality masks the horrors she endured. At 15 she watched her mother disappear behind gas chamber doors. Additionally, 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. Thus, Sonia is the ultimate survivor. She is also a bridge between cultures and generations.

Film poster for Big Sonia, featuring Sonia at a steering wheel covered in leopard print

Her story must never be forgotten.

Filmmakers Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday spent over 12 years creating this loving and thought-provoking portrait. Clearly, they persevered against some of modern history’s most jaw-dropping events. Such events include: the election of president who had never held office, the storming of the US Capitol, and now the invasion of a sovereign nation. Altogether, we see that Sonia’s story is more relevant than ever.

Watch the Film on PBS


BIG SONIA Theatrical Trailer from Inflatable Film on Vimeo.

Through PBS, the film is currently available to 80% of U.S. markets. You can access the full broadcast schedule here. Critics praise the film. Students connect with the film because Sonia was their age during the Holocaust.

“Engaging and thoughtful…An unforgettable woman refuses to forget in this thoughtful exploration of history’s fallout.”

“Sonia is a powerful subject.”

Big Sonia’s Story Empowers Student Learning

cut out art image of part of Sonia's story. She is a little girl with a woman surrounded by SS officers.

BIG SONIA 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. Her influence spans generations and cultures, and we see first-hand how she transforms a room of self-involved teenagers into thoughtful citizens.

You can read an interview that our Director of Programs and Outreach did with filmmaker Leah Warshawski on Video Librarian.

Film laurels for Big Sonia