Prisoner of Her Past

From April ’10 Spotlight: The Gene Siskel Film Center is hosting the local premiere of Prisoner of Her Past, a new documentary based on Chicago Tribune reporter Howard Reich’s book The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A Son’s Memoir. Reich grew up in Skokie knowing his mother Sonia was a Holocaust survivor, but she suppressed her memories and never revealed any of her experiences. As she aged, however, her behavior became increasingly erratic, leading doctors to diagnose her condition as late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In the film, Reich travels to Poland and Ukraine in search of information, and he attempts to reunite Sonia with people from her past, but her pain cannot be assuaged. This is difficult material, so kudos to Kartemquin Films for chronicling the Reich family’s journey with an unflinching eye.

Numerous screenings of Prisoner of Her Past are planned between April 9 and April 15, and Reich will appear in person at all screenings along with additional special guests. On Sunday April 11, Holocaust Remembrance Day, a special panel discussion will follow the 3:00 pm screening moderated by Chicago Tribune editor Gerry Kern. To order tickets for specific screenings in advance, visit

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