Two Seattle filmmakers among select group of Americans heading to Shanghai Int'l Film Fest
The projects are among just a small selection of American-made films that will be screening at the festival, which takes place June 17-26. Filmmaking team Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday are traveling to Shangai to present their documentary BIG SONIA, which is the only American-made documentary in competition. And director SJ Chiro's LANE 1974 (which recently won the New American Cinema Grand Jury prize at SIFF) will screen in the new Bridge program, with Chiro in attendance.
BIG SONIA screens June 18, 19, 22, 23, and 24. Watch the teaser.
LANE 1974 screens June 17. Visit the official website.
"We think it's amazing that among so few US productions in the festival, TWO are from Seattle! We are so pleased to be included and to be in such fine company. We are really looking forward to sharing Sonia's inspirational story with an international audience." -Leah Warshawski
"We are thrilled to be one of five American independent films invited to participate in the New Bridges program as part of the 2017 Shanghai International Film Festival. I am honored to be able to attend the festival and look forward to interacting with a Chinese audience around a very American story, with the universal theme of loneliness and the longing of a child to find acceptance and belonging." -SJ Chiro
ABOUT THE FILMS
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.
Based on Clane Hayward’s memoir The Hypocrisy of Disco, LANE 1974 tells a true coming of age survival story. It's 1974. 13-year-old Lane lives on a beautiful Northern California commune, wild and free, until her mother, a rebel and iconoclast, alienates their small group from the security and safety of the community land. They begin moving from one unlikely situation to another, leaving normal life far behind. Scrounging for food and hitch-hiking, while her mother cadges cash and begs favors, Lane and her siblings rely on one another in an increasingly desolate and isolated emotional landscape. After a series of dangerous events, Lane must decide how to survive.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday
Leah Warshawski produces documentary-style features, television, commercials, and branded entertainment in remote parts of the world. Her first feature, FINDING HILLYWOOD (2013) won 6 awards including the Critic’s Award (Sebastopol Doc Festival) and the Audience Award (Napa Film Festival), and screened at more than 65 festivals. Leah’s career in film began in Hawaii working in the marine department for LOST and HAWAII. She is currently co-ep for the feature doc PERSONHOOD (2017-18), and advises filmmakers on outreach, marketing and hybrid distribution plans. In addition, Leah co-founded rwandafilm.org, a “LinkedIn” for Rwandan filmmakers supported by Bpeace and The Academy of Motion Pictures.
Todd is a jack-of-all-trades with 25 years experience in production and post. He specializes in documentary storytelling and adventure films such as PLATINUM (2007). As post-production supervisor for FINDING HILLYWOOD (2013), Todd provided creative direction for a dynamic graphics package, handled all distribution deliverables, and edited a music video for the film. Recent feature documentary projects include OUT OF LUCK (2015) and THE BREACH (2014).
SJ Chiro graduated from Bennington College with a degree in theater and French literature. She spent much of her early career as an actor and director in Seattle’s theater scene and has since directed several award-winning short films including "Howard from Ohio," "The Epiphany" and "Third Day's Child."