OMA & BELLA
(Alexa Karolinski, Germany, USA). 75 minutes. Subtitled. Rating: Alexa Karolinski has assembled all the elements required of a good doc: two great characters, their Holocaust memories and their tender friendship. But the film never comes together.
Part of the problem is the editing. These two Jewish grandmothers living in Berlin for the past five years don’t share their memories of the war until the last 15 minutes. Interspersing their recollections with evidence of their present connection – like a scene in which Bella is administering Oma’s eye drops – would have given greater heft to their friendship. Instead, the doc meanders, and when it finds a focus in their cooking, strangely never shows us a completed dish. Apr 28, 6: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3; Apr 30, 4: 30 pm, ROM Theatre. organizations and the press when she couldn’t handle the violent nature of the leftist protests.
Not so much a testimonial or a search for forgiveness as a quest for clarity, the lo-fi film feels scattershot at times, but lengthy encounters with those she wronged (particularly her own tortured mother and a black former best friend) pack a real punch. Apr 28, 7: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2; Apr 29, 4 pm, Cumberland 3; May 4, 9 pm, ROM Theatre.