Bella Katz and Regina (“Oma”) Karolinski live together in contemporary Berlin, where they spend their days cooking, talking, and helping one another with the tasks of daily life. The two women are the subjects of Oma & Bella, a new documentary made by Regina’s granddaughter, Alexa Karolinski. (You can watch it online here.)
Rather than cute-ify the ladies into stereotypical bubbies or cast them as victims of history, Karolinski lets her subjects speak for themselves. And speak they do: of their lives before the war, of their husbands, of the importance of eating chocolate daily. And in their long, intimate moments of silence, we witness their deep comfort with one another and the intimacy forged by shared joy and grief.
Is it better to dwell on the horror of war, the film asks, or to let it go? “It’s in our bones and it will stay in our bones,” Bella says of the past. But in the careful rolling of a blintz, and the gentle stirring of a simmering tzimmes, Oma and Bella connect the past to the present day. And through her beautiful Oma & Bella Cookbook Karolinski helps us experience their labors of love—and to eat them, too.