OMA is a short narrative film inspired by my experience as a third generation Holocaust survivor. Both of my maternal grandparents survived WWII but never shared their stories with the family. Like many families, mine acknowledged our past, but never really talked about it. We were always concerned that my grandparents, who had been through so much, would suffer more by retelling their stories, than by holding them in. I learned from a young age that it was my responsibility to protect my grandparents from having to relive their horrors. I believe that this blockage of communication and the inherited trauma has greatly impacted my life and art.
As a creator, I have known for a while that I needed to use my art to bring my grandparents’ story to life: I knew I had to write my grandparents’ story: the story of silence and its loud implications on family dynamic. I reached out to my very talented friend Melissa Jane Osborne to collaborate on what is now OMA. She picked up on the universal themes of longing for connection and understanding oneself through loved ones among others. Through our discussions, the generational gap between ourselves and our grandparents became very clear. The need for the current generation to share and over share, often behind a computer screen, is juxtaposed with our grandparents’ need for privacy and anonymity.
OMA initially started as an attempt to provide answers, to flush out my grandmother’s story. I like Dana thought that knowing facts and figures that I wanted to get, would help heal mine. What I realized from this process is that no story can provide all the answers we think we want, and there are answers that people don’t want to share. All we can do is start a conversation and be open to where it goes. OMA is our way of starting that conversation.
Dana Bloch is nearly 30 and lives at home with her parents. A Ph. D candidate, studying genocide and film, Dana connects with the world around her through a screen. Adept in facts, she has collected hundreds of stories from holocaust survivors, the only one that escapes her is her own grandmother’s.
At 90 years old, Dana’s grandmother, Ethel Mueller is sharp, sexy and meticulously put together. She lives in New Jersey alone in a retirement community she finds to be ‘lacking’. She has one daughter to whom she no longer speaks. Most people like Ethel, but she doesn’t always like them.
Dana and Ethel meet for the first time in 20 years on camera. As Dana attempts to get Ethel’s story, Ethel is reluctant. She agreed to this meeting to see her granddaughter, and if she’s going to rehash the past it’ll be on her terms. What ensues is a cat and mouse game of facts and missed connection. As Dana gets closer to getting Ethel to speak, she realizes that the person in front of her is more interesting than the story she intended to get.
Initially we’d be looking at festival submissions like Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, and Tribeca. These festivals are familiar with our team’s work. We imagine the film having a long and prosperous festival run given its subject matter and the talent attached. Past the festival run we’d primarily be looking at online distribution: Netflix, iTunes and so on. It’s a film about starting conversations so we hope to find audiences within the arts/education communities, museums and historical societies among others.