BIG SONIA and GOLD BALLS Awarded  $50,000 SIFF Filmmaking Grants

1/26/2016 | SIFF Festivals
Leah Anderson | | (206) 464-5830 x.685

Seattle, WA -- January, 2016 -- Two filmmaking grants will be awarded in the 2015 True Productions / SIFF $50,000 Documentary Filmmakers Grant program. Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday's film BIG SONIA and Kate Dandel's film GOLD BALLS. 

True Productions founder Dwayne Clark, and his wife Terese Clark, have generously pledged to underwrite an annual $50,0000 grant for three years and helped secure an additional $50,000 award from Áegis Living for the 2015 funding cycle based on the extraordinary quality of projects submitted. Reflecting on the first year of the program, Dwayne said, "I am truly touched and impressed by the quantity and quality of entries. It moved me to get Áegis Living involved and make a second grant available to inspire and nurture the spirits of seniors and storytellers throughout the Seattle area." 

"We're grateful to SIFF and True Productions for believing in BIG SONIA so we can make a big impact starting in 2016," Leah said. "This grant will propel us forward to complete the film while Sonia is 90 - which has been our ultimate dream since we began production in 2011." Reflecting on the film's journey, she continued, "We consider the Seattle film community our family and we're eager to share BIG SONIA with so many people close to our hearts. Thank you for allowing us to work on a film we care deeply about...we have big things in store!"


BIG SONIA is an absorbing portrait of Sonia Warshawski (90), a tiny woman that stands a mere 4'8", with a huge personality and big impact in the world. Diva, business owner, "national treasure," and Holocaust survivor - she's just been served an eviction notice for John's Tailoring, the last (and most popular) shop left standing in a dying suburban mall. Sonia struggles with retirement, while her life lessons span generations.

Kate Dandel's film, GOLD BALLS, chronicles a diverse group of athletes over age 80 as they barnstorm the country in pursuit of a National Championship title in tennis. Shot at four National Championship locations around the country GOLD BALLS explores universal questions about aging, mindset, and the unexpected power of a goal through the lens of a unique subculture - the "ultra" senior tennis world. 


"We're delighted that Áegis Living has chosen to underwrite this grant for GOLD BALLS. We look forward to partnering with this recognized champion in senior care facilities. The heartwarming and inspiring themes in GOLD BALLS resonate with and reflect the positive ethos for which Áegis Living is widely admired," Director Kate Dandel said.

Perfectly summing up the successful launch of the program, SIFF Artistic Director, Carl Spence says, "SIFF has long supported the filmmaking ecosystem by providing a platform for filmmakers to debut their work from around the world. We are humbled by the generosity of Dwayne and Terese  Clark, True Productions and Áegis Living and their commitment to nurture filmmakers with the vital financial support these two $50,000 grants will provide. These exceptional films now have the opportunity to be fully realized and to be successfully launched into the world."

About SIFF

Founded in 1976, SIFF creates experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world with the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema, and SIFF Education. Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival is the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States, reaching more than 150,000 annually. The 25-day festival is renowned for its wide-ranging and eclectic programming, presenting over 450 features, short films, and documentaries from over 80 countries each year. SIFF Cinema exhibits premiere theatrical engagements, repertory, classic, and revival film showings 365 days a year on five screens at the SIFF Cinema Uptown, SIFF Cinema Egyptian, and SIFF Film Center, reaching more than 150,000 attendees annually. SIFF Education offers educational programs for all audiences serving more than 13,000 students and youth in the community with free programs each year.

About True Productions

True Productions is a Seattle-based film, theater and media production company where "art meets heart".  Founded by author, playwright and CEO of Aegis Living, Dwayne Clark and his wife Terese Clark, True Productions is committed to bringing true life stories aimed at enlightening, entertaining and inspiring.

About Aegis Living

Aegis Living is a national leader in retirement, assisted living and Alzheimer's care providing the finest in senior lifestyle emphasizing health, quality of life, well-being and community. Aegis Living is guided by a simple philosophy: strive to treat all people with the highest possible standards. Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Redmond, Washington privately held Aegis Living operates 30 communities in Washington, California and Nevada.