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Film About Holocaust Survivor Features Lansing Correctional Facility, Reaching Out From Within Program

by KDOC News — last modified Oct 17, 2017 01:52 PM
A video segment filmed at Lansing Correctional Facility is featured prominently in a documentary that will be released in theaters in select cities this fall, including Kansas City.


BIG SONIA, a documentary about Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States shortly after the conclusion of World War II, features a visit by Warshawski to the Lansing prison, where she encouraged and challenged the men in the facility with her personal story.

BIG SONIA had its festival premiere in November 2016 and has won 12 awards since then. The film, produced by Inflatable Film LLC will have its theatrical premiere in Kansas City this Fall / Winter. The film has been submitted for consideration for an Academy Award.

While the film deals with a host of topics from Warshawski’s life, the visit to LCF is prominent, and the impact her message had on the offenders demonstrates the power of her experiences.

Warshawski has since visited other KDOC facilities, and was featured in an article by the Kansas City Star for her impact on offenders.

“At LCF, my mother was overwhelmed with how the men responded to what she had to say,” Warshawski’s daughter Regina Kort said. “She realized she could make a difference in their lives, and so we were glad to speak to the women (at Topeka Correctional Facility) and at the other ,” said Kort, who noted that her mother speaks several times a year, primarily to school groups.

The film was screened on Oct. 8 at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library to an audience made up largely of volunteers of Reaching Out From Within, a nonprofit organization that sponsors self-help groups for the incarcerated. It was Reaching Out From Within that invited Warshawski to speak at one of its meetings at LCF and has hosted her subsequent visits.

"We’ve been screening BIG SONIA for the last eight months and audiences always tell us that the scenes at Lansing are some of the most impactful and emotional scenes in the film,” said Leah Warshawski, Producer/Director of the film, and granddaughter of its subject. “We’re honored to have attended a few Reaching Out From Within meetings with (director) SuEllen Fried and looking forward to sharing the impact of this transformational program each time we screen the film.”

BIG SONIA is scheduled to be shown at the Glenwood Arts Theater, 3707 W. 95th St. in Overland Park on Dec. 1. The film’s website – www.bigsonia.com - contains a list of upcoming screenings, as well as information on how those interested can host a screening in their own community.

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