Oma and Bella is an intimate glimpse into the life of two dynamic elderly Jewish women in Berlin. The film follows them as make elaborate dishes recalled from their childhoods, before the Holocaust. Through the cooking of the sumptuous meals, they retain a part of their past past while remaining very much engaged in the present.Written by
Oma & Bella (2012) is a German documentary directed by Alexa Karolinski. Karolinski has made a film about her grandmother Regina Karolinski (Oma) and her grandmother's friend Bella Katz.
The two women, both Holocaust survivors, were displaced persons after the war, and they both ended up in Berlin, where they still live. The women carry on an active life, full of conversation and social connections. A great deal of their lives revolve around food, which they purchase and prepare with loving skill.
No major events take place in the film. Karolinski has directed a quiet, positive film that avoids real or artificial crises. For obvious reasons, people who have been deprived of food when they are young will care about food more than others who haven't been deprived. However, in the case of Oma and Bella, there are more subtle factors in play. They enjoy eating, and they enjoy feeding others. Much of their social life seems to revolve around dinner parties, at which everyone eats well. Offering food is their way of offering love, and it works for them and for us.
We saw this film at the Little Theatre as part of the marvelous Rochester Jewish Film Festival. It will work very well on DVD. Not only did we get the opportunity to view the movie, but the RJFF organizers had another treat for us. The Oma & Bella cookbook is now available, and it was on sale in the lobby after the film ended. It's in German and English, and is definitely worth buying if you like to cook.
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