OMA & BELLA

NOW Magazine - Hot Docs - - Hot Docs Film Fest Guide -

(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.

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